Discovery Point Blog
Putting the Right People in the Classrooms: An Interview with Discovery Point Owner Pauline Webster
*The following is provided by Discovery Point’s hiring and staffing partner, CareerPlug.
Pauline Webster has been a Discovery Point Center franchisee since 2007. But her career didn’t start in child care. With a background in business and accounting, she first spent 15 years in the world of finance, dealing with acquisitions and divestitures rather than toys and diapers.
So what made her decide to pivot into owning a child care business?
Webster recalls, “I just became increasingly less enamored with just only being in finance.”
She had originally wanted to be a teacher, but her aptitude for math led her to a career in finance instead. But in 2001, a friend who owned a Discovery Point Center asked her if she’d be interested in becoming a partner to run one of their locations.
Webster jumped at the opportunity. “I’m the tenth child of thirteen, so I essentially grew up in a child care environment the whole time, so it was kind of natural,” she says.
After six years with her business partners, she decided to open her own Discovery Point Center, which she’s been running for the past 15 years.
In that time, she’s operated her child care center her way – adhering to the highest standards and expecting the same from her team. Using her hiring process, she’s assembled a roster of exceptional teachers, assistant teachers, and other staff members dedicated to providing high-quality educational experiences to the children in her Discovery Point classrooms.
In 2020, Discovery Point partnered with CareerPlug for their employment staffing website. We sat down with Pauline Webster to learn more about how she hires and how she uses CareerPlug to help staff her center.
What is your mission at Discovery Point and how do your employees connect to that?
“Our employees must have a love for children, first of all. If they don’t have that, it becomes evident very quickly whether or not they’re a good fit for the role. On the job, our first priority is safety: creating a safe and clean environment for the children. Our second priority is the curriculum. You won’t find any rooms in our facility in which teachers are simply babysitting kids until their parents pick them up. We have a very active curriculum.”
Who is the ideal person you try to hire?
“For lead teachers, they have to have higher qualifications. For Georgia Pre-K teachers, we’re looking for a Bachelor’s degree or higher, along with other accreditations. For assistant teachers, we sometimes struggle when hiring for those roles. Candidates don’t always look at all the qualifications on the job posting, which serves as an indicator for how detail-oriented they’re going to be once they get into your classroom. They’ve got to fill out all sorts of paperwork on each child, but if they’re not even reading the job description they’re applying for, they’re probably not going to be very detailed in that way either.”
“We can look at a lot of candidates before we find someone. Having an applicant tracking system like CareerPlug helps because we can send an assessment to candidates and when they do the assessment, it shows that they’re willing to go one step further. If they’re taking the time to do that, then I’ll usually follow up with them because it’s an early indicator of how committed they are to actually working for you specifically, versus just clicking on every single job that’s available.”
Walk us through the steps of your hiring process.
“First, I review their resumes and I check to see if the candidate is a ‘job hopper.’ Then I create a list of people I’d like to learn more about and send them an assessment to complete. If they complete the assessment, I call them for an interview. When they come in, I have them fill out a four-page application that answers some questions that aren’t on their resumes.”
“We’ll talk with them long enough to know whether we want to pursue them or not. After that, we check references. We’ll make sure that they have at least two or three valid references who are actually supervisors, not their friends or relatives.”
“Sometimes you just interview a candidate who impresses you and you know if you don’t decide on making an offer that day, they’re going to go to two more places after you and they’re going to get a job offer from them. When that happens, we’ll try to expedite the references and background check for the truly impressive candidates.”
“Generally, though, we call candidates in for a second interview and make our decision after that. And then the final step is the background check. Once they pass that, we deliver our offer.”
What would you want potential employees to know before applying to Discovery Point? Why should they want to work for you?
“This is a harder place to work than the typical daycare center down the road because we follow all state regulations. We clean our rooms thoroughly and adhere to all state safety standards. We run our centers and our classrooms at lower ratios than the state. We vet out our teachers very well. We don’t make hasty choices. We do hold our staff accountable. But you’re also not going to have 20 kids when you should only have 12.”
“We hold our teachers to higher expectations because we give them the environment to excel that way. I’ve interviewed so many teachers that have had way too many kids. There’s no way they can implement a curriculum properly or watch over the health and safety of all the children they have. You just can’t split yourself that many ways. We set the teachers up to be able to excel because of the ratios that we have and because we’re actually enforcing the state regulations.”
“It can be harder in one aspect, but for the teachers who choose to join our team, it’s also more rewarding for them to be in a place where they can succeed at what they do best. The teachers that we have are very loyal to us. It just takes us a while to find them because we want to make sure we’re putting the right people in the classrooms.”
Webster’s center, Discovery Point Acworth, is one of nearly 50 child care centers in the Discovery Point franchise system that stretches across Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina. To learn more about Discovery Point career opportunities, visit their Careers page powered by CareerPlug.