In 1990, the Erwins took the lead again by franchising their model to provide hands-on leadership and a proven delivery model for their schools. They recruited Jo Kirchner to help them launch and grow their franchise brand.
And so, the seed was planted "in the mind of a businesswoman and the heart of a mother." With the vision of delivering a trusted, premier, early learning experience for children across America, Jo set about establishing a brand with an exclusive, Balanced Learning® approach continually strengthened by top early education experts that has proven to be one of the defining reasons many parents choose Primrose.
For more than 35 years, Primrose Schools® has been partnering with parents, children, our staff and the communities we serve to support and advocate for children and families who are in greatest need. These efforts are driven by our corporate social responsibility program – Primrose Promise – which aims to create a brighter future for all children through advocacy efforts focused on access to early education, safety and quality child care standards. It’s our commitment to giving without expecting.
In 1990, we revolutionized the child care industry by franchising our exclusive early education and care model.
Primrose Schools is not only The Leader in Early Education and Care®, we are the only early education franchise company to offer a time-tested Balanced Learning® approach aligned to early learning standards and developed alongside top early education experts. Many of these experts also serve on our Education Advisory Board which is tasked with the continuous improvement of our education curriculum and training programs.
Utilizing annual student assessments, a separate full-time team of early education experts studies current research and carefully strengthens each component of the Balanced Learning Curriculum. This insures the most rewarding educational experience possible for children and their families. True to our philosophy, at Primrose, we never stop growing and learning.
Listen to Jo Kirchner speak at the National Business Leaders Summit on Early Education about the role of early education and care in our country's future.Watch Video
Jo Kirchner has devoted the majority of her career to pioneering breakthrough strategies for delivering high-quality early education and care. As CEO of Primrose Schools® since 1999, she has led strategic growth of the company from four locations in Georgia to a national brand recognized as an industry leader and innovator.
Jo joined Primrose in 1990 as Vice President and was instrumental in creating and expanding the franchise model that now includes over 400 independently owned and operated schools coast-to-coast.
Today, Jo continues to shape strategic direction for the rapidly expanding franchise company while also providing leadership on the Primrose Schools Board of Directors and the Primrose Early Learning Council. Outside the company, her national advocacy work includes serving on the board as co-chair for the Early Care & Education Consortium, a trustee for Cognia and the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board, and she engages in initiatives internationally to advance early education and child care.
Jo founded the Primrose Schools Children’s Foundation and launched the Primrose PromiseSM corporate social responsibility program, which helps the Primrose organization fulfill its mission to forge a path that leads to a brighter future for all children.
Steve Clemente joined Primrose as President in May 2016. In his role, he leads internal operations for Primrose School Franchising Company and partners with CEO Jo Kirchner on strategic growth initiatives.
Steve’s entire career has been focused on providing senior leadership and management in multi-unit businesses. Prior to joining the Primrose Schools executive team, Steve served as President of Field & Stream, a subsidiary of Dick’s Sporting Goods, and also previously held senior leadership positions with the Nebraska Book Company and Target Stores.
Steven Fricker joined Primrose as Chief Development Officer in September 2018. In his role, he leads strategic growth initiatives for our Real Estate and Franchise departments as we continue to expand our geographic footprint to serve more children across the country and enter new markets.
Before joining Primrose, Steven spent more than 30 years supporting individual and multi-unit franchise concepts within the restaurant industry, with a strong focus on development strategy and operations. He has experience as a franchisor, such as his most recent role as the Head of North American Development for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. In addition, Steve also served as a franchisee leader and operator for great brands such as Panera Bread, IHOP, Corner Bakery and Outback Steakhouse.
Throughout his career, Steven has successfully led organizations through aggressive growth in challenging markets such as California. He offers an abundance of leadership and strategic knowledge that helps support our Franchise Owners and our long-range growth objectives at Primrose.
Steven holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from San Diego State University in California, where he served as a founding member for the advisory board of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Steven resides in Atlanta with his wife, Stacey, and his son Corbin (18). He has a daughter Stephanie (24) who is pursuing her career in New York City.
John Teat became Chief Franchise Financing Officer for Primrose Schools in April 2016, having previously served as Managing Director of Franchise Finance since November 2009.
In these roles, he has developed new, innovative lending programs that have supported the company’s ability to grow new Primrose school openings and serve more children and families across America.
His prior experience includes more than 25 years in the banking and finance industry, during which he dedicated much of his time to creating national franchise lending programs for multiple franchise brands. In that capacity, he first began working with Primrose Schools in 1992.
Travis Waldrop serves as Vice President, Real Estate. In his role, Travis provides executive leadership of the site acquisition process – from location selection to the execution of purchase and sale agreements. He first joined Primrose as Manager, Site Acquisition in November 2017 and, following his success in that role, was promoted to Vice President, Real Estate.
Travis possesses nearly two decades of experience in commercial real estate, including specializing in interim development and permanent financing, as well as site selection. In his most recent role before joining Primrose, he assisted companies in both the acquisition and disposition of real estate as Vice President at Carr Development, Inc.
Travis holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Texas at Austin as well as the CCIM designation. With his extensive background and vast network in the real estate industry, Travis is charged with accelerating growth and driving efficiencies through enhancements to the real estate process.
Travis resides in Atlanta with his family. In his down time, Travis enjoys spending time in the outdoors.
Tim Waldsmith joined Primrose in December 2017. As Vice President, Strategic Development, he leads strategic growth for Franchise Sales and Acquisitions & Conversions as we continue to grow and provide high quality early education and care to more children and families across America.
Tim has spent more than twenty years within the education and service sector, having previously served as Vice President of Operations for Aramark Education. His extensive background in sales, operations and hospitality makes him the ideal leader to engage with employers and existing childcare owners to develop new partnerships.
Tim has a bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Alabama. He serves as a member of both the School Excellence & School Development Teams for Primrose Schools and is passionate about helping provide quality education for all children.
Tim Roush joined Primrose Schools as Chief Marketing Officer in January 2020. In this role, he leads strategic efforts to actively protect and promote Primrose premium brand leadership position and grow brand loyalty and advocacy Primrose School Franchising Company and Primrose schools nationwide.
Tim has spent nearly forty years within the marketing sector, having previously served as Chief Marketing Officer for 1-800 CONTACTS, and also previously held marketing positions with Sara Lee, General Motors, Novartis, and Proctor & Gamble. His extensive background in brand strategy, consumer insight analytics, and integrated marketing development makes him the ideal leader to utilize key marketing strategies to drive accelerated growth for the organization.
Tim has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Literature from Brigham Young University and an MBA in Marketing and Finance from Penn State University. He is passionate about helping provide quality education to all children through the Primrose Schools Children’s Foundation.
Annette Heng joined Primrose in September 2016 and leads strategic efforts to foster a brand-driven, high performance environment for Primrose School Franchising Company and the Primrose schools system. She has worked in education for more than 30 years, having previously served as a regional vice president for Aramark Education, among other roles for the company. Heng holds a bachelor’s degree from National Louis University and a master’s degree in education from Erikson Institute and Loyola University. She and her operations team are responsible for initial training and operation support, school openings, quality assurance, consultations, school cost control and ongoing Franchise Owner support and relationship building.
Dr. Lauren Starnes
Dr. Lauren Starnes joined Primrose in March 2018. As Vice President, Early Childhood Education Research and Development, she leads the team responsible for furthering the adoption, efficacy and continuous improvement of our proprietary, researched-informed Balanced Learning® approach.
With nearly twenty years of experience in early childhood education, Lauren has actively served the education system on all levels. While she began her formal career teaching at the university level, she has prior experience teaching within preschools, serving as a support professional for children with autism spectrum disorders and as a coach for fellow preschool teachers. She has also worked as a school principal for multiple different preschools and elementary school programs, consulted for different early childhood education and educational product companies, and remains actively involved as a voice for early childhood education in various professional associations.
Lauren has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree and doctoral degree in developmental and child psychology from North Carolina State University, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and administration from Liberty University.
Lauren resides in Atlanta with her husband and two sons, whom she enjoys cheering on in baseball in her spare time.