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Changing Families through Music: Teacher Suzette Yu-Kho of KindermusikDiscover how passion for music and early childhood education has helped this mompreneur carve a name for herself.
Suzette Yu-Kho, or Teacher Suzette, did not originally start out to be a Kindermusik educator. In fact, her background is in accounting and finance. In her younger days, she actually was a working student living on her own abroad. Before getting involved with Kindermusik, she ran a daycare and kiddie salon in a mall.
However, when she became pregnant with her second child, Teacher Suzette decided to let go of her daycare center to concentrate on her own children, but promised herself that when her kids are older, she’d be back doing what she loves.
The “Seeds” of a Love for Kindermusik
“I was already interested in Kindermusik way back in 2002 — I was impressed with the feedback from parents online and I was interested in the methodology. I truly believed in the program because I knew that children responded better to lessons once music was integrated,” Teacher Suzette adds.
“I also believed in being very hands-on with your clients, so I knew that if I were to open a Kindermusik studio, I would be the full-time educator. At that time, there wasn't a full-blown music and movement program in the Philippines yet, so I was apprehensive about getting into it and investing a lot because I didn't know how the market would respond to such a new concept,” she says.
“I was aware that if I were to get into the Kindermusik program, I had to purchase expensive Kindermusik instruments even if I were to start out small, and this made me stop and think. I wanted my children to be a bit older as well before venturing into a new enterprise.”
However, years later, in 2007, Teacher Suzette’s father was diagnosed with cancer. “I realized that life was short and we had better do what we wanted to do in life. After all, my children were older then and I was no longer breastfeeding; so I took a chance and built up my program, never imagining that it would grow this much within just a few years,” she says.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Her Past Helped Define Her Future
Because of Teacher Suzette’s working student background and prior business experience, she believes that she has learned to persevere, no matter how big the obstacles are. She has also learned how to be business-savvy.
“I know that some clients can quite a challenge to handle, but since I am a people-oriented person, I can handle criticism well. I also have a clear idea of how to manage my own books; I have a system of doing things,” she says.
“In fact, after several years of managing my program and being the primary educator, it is only now that I have hired a secretary and more teachers. I used to do everything myself — balancing books; purchasing; collecting accounts receivable and issuing receipts in between teaching classes; doing follow-up phone calls with clients; marketing the program during events; answering inquiries (via phone and e-mail); doing reports and managing accounts payable for the schools I was handling.”
Although presently Teacher Suzette still teaches most of the classes herself, her secretary now assists her in administrative tasks, while the other teachers handle a few classes independently.
These teachers are the "friends" in her program (Kindermusik with Teacher Suzette and Friends) —mostly parents who became Kindermusik educators themselves. “They believe in the program so much because they see the direct effect on their own children,” she explains.
Aside from Kindermusik, Teacher Suzette also runs an enrichment center in her studio in Capitol Green Street, Quezon City, offering academic tutorials, Reading, Singapore Math, Chinese classes, Art and therapy. “The teachers in my team are all dedicated and well-trained,” she emphasizes.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
More an Advocacy than a Business
Kindermusik has always been an advocacy for Teacher Suzette, who is very supportive of families who cannot afford to pay the Kindermusik tuition fees. “I believe in reaching out to less fortunate children because I want such a high-quality program to be within the grasp of everybody in the Philippines — no matter what one's social standing may be,” she shares.
“I got into Kindermusik mainly due to my outreach work. I have children with special needs, and kids from zero or low-income families coming to my program and taking home free imported materials,” she adds.
Because of this, in 2009, Teacher Suzette was the first Filipina to be given the Ruth Anderson grant by the U.S. to help her carry on with her outreach work. “In 2011 and the current year, I was again recognized by the U.S. to be the first Filipina to receive the Maestro Award in Outreach. Truly, catering to children from all social sectors is my main passion and the families can see this.”
In fact, Teacher Suzette always insists that a family attends a free trial class first before enrolling, because she does not want to take money from anyone unless he/she is very sure of the program and trusts her as the educator.
“I make sure that families get more than what they pay for, too. If a child misses classes and does not make up for his absences, I automatically deduct these from the following semester's tuition,” she shares.
“At the end of every semester, I hold a little catered party for all the families sponsored by my program, too. I also fetch and drop off students living nearby for free.”
Kindermusik: Child-centered and Family-focused
Teacher Suzette believes that when one is in the field of education, the best interests of the child take priority. “Unlike in other types of ‘businesses’ where the main goal is to make profit, in Kindermusik, I use my heart all the time,” she says.
“Building relationships is key in Kindermusik and that is why I don't treat it as a business,” says Teacher Suzette. For her, Kindermusik is very personalized, not commercialized. “I have witnessed many touching, unforgettable moments between parents and their children—no amount of money could replace these special experiences,” she shares.
“Whenever I see that a family is having financial difficulty, I offer assistance by being very flexible. I want the child to reap the benefits of the program by being consistent in attendance and this also means finishing the entire program,” she further discloses. “There were even times when I did not collect from some families anymore, but I just took on the attitude of being happy about having been given the opportunity to touch a child's life through music.”ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Families Before Finances
According to Teacher Suzette, KIndermusik can be financially rewarding but this should not be the main reason as to why one would want to pursue it. “It should not even be considered as someone's main source of income. In my case, it was a well-loved hobby that just grew, thanks to the support of the families re-enrolling semester after semester and through word-of-mouth,” she shares.
“I just love teaching the children and connecting with families and I would much rather teach for free rather than become unproductive. Kindermusik also helps me in terms of raising and understanding my own children.”
Teacher Suzette explains that, as with any venture, her first two years of being a Kindermusik educator was all about spending and building up on inventory. “After that, it has run smoothly except whenever I had to relocate, as relocating my studio means spending on a few renovation projects,” she says.
“I am currently very happy in my new venue (Capitol Green Street) — despite the amount of money involved in renovating — because it is exactly what I want my Kindermusik studio to be.”
Teacher as Mommy; Mommy as Teacher
Aside from her Kindermusik advocacy-cum-business, Teacher Suzette is a loving wife to Raymund and dedicated mom to her two sons (Russell Scott, 10, and Skyeler Rhys, 7). “I have to really hand it to my wonderful husband for being such an amazing father and understanding spouse,” she says.
“He respects my need for growth and fulfillment and he has passed this on to my two children, who are also very proud of what I'm doing. They understand that, as a woman, I need to empower myself; and, as a citizen of this country, I have a social responsibility not only towards my family but also towards our fellow countrymen.”
As to how she manages her schedule as an educator, wife and mom, Teacher Suzette says she does not teach every day because she knows her limits and “Kindermusik can be physically exhausting (with all the crawling, jumping, rolling around while singing).”
“On the days that I am not teaching, I make sure that I spend plenty of time with my family,” she divulges. “I also try to avoid teaching in the evenings and on Sundays, even if some families are asking for Sunday classes.”ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Teacher Suzette and her family travel often, so she makes sure that she starts her semesters on time and ends them on time as well.
She shares her success tips with the other moms (and dads!) out there:
“In order to be successful, you have to be passionate and believe in the services/products you are promoting. Never think about the money first.
Ask yourself, ‘Is this the type of product/service I will love forever, something that will make the world a better place, something that motivates me in the morning when I wake up?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ then it would be better to think of another venture.”
“Education is a vocation. In Kindermusik, one has to be prepared to spend more than earn, but the fulfillment and the blessings come in other forms,” she concludes.
Connect with Kindermusik with Teacher Suzette and Friends by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), on Facebook, or call 775-2474 (Capitol Green Street) / 426-2909 (Gingerbread House of Learning) / 216-5677 and by mobile through 0917-853-0225.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW