Tell me something about yourself. (Where did you grow up, significant relationships, what do you do for fun, as little or as much as you want).
“I’m a proud native of Georgia. I grew up there, but I have lived longer in the State of Florida; over 20 years. I’ve done quite a bit of growing since moving here as well.” (laughter)
Tell me about you as a professional. What do/did you do to make a living, before you started your own full-time business?
I’ve done a lot, professionally speaking. Having served children and their families since 1990, I’ve worked in sectarian and non-sectarian facilities. I also owned a Family Childcare Home in North Florida. After giving as much as I thought I could in the classroom setting, I took courses in management, then lead 2 elite teams on their journey as educators.
The first team was co-managed with the owner who sold the facility that I left. We still call each other when we are not busy and laugh about previous challenges that lead to great relationships. We are still proud to be the managers who won over 5 awards and 3 accreditations as a school. I also received one as “Best Teacher”. I still smile about that one. Ok, let me focus on the question at hand.
I began writing plans for my business, Jones Educational Consulting, LLC, while managing the day-to-day operations at that aforementioned facility. My initial intent was to resign, take additional college courses, and work for myself. In the midst of planning, I was informed, by the previously mentioned owner, that she had sold the school. I spent over one year trying to decide when would be the best time to resign. I guess you can say I saw the need to support the greater good. Three years later, I resigned. Two of those 3 years were spent traveling, collaborating with others, and serving children and their families as Ms.B, The Storyteller. I now make money through full-time ownership of my business which gives me time to provide hourly work as an educator, consulting to support schools in various ways, and work contract performances as Ms.B! I absolutely love all that I do.
What inspired you to start your business?
My love for working in early childhood settings.
Were there supporters or naysayers?
There will always be supporters, like YOU (Wanda) who see value in people. Naysayers are only naysayers because they just don’t understand the yes in your success. (laughing)They believe I read, unenthusiastically as if I am forced to read to children and their families during the day. (laughing) I am a performer who absolutely LOVE CHILDREN and their family. I do this willingly, without competition because I will always have my own unique way of showing love, through stories. I, Ms.B,The Storyteller am naturally known for providing experiences. When I am paid to read, and tell stories, I make deeper connections. I am confident that my performance will be memorable to those who love reading and storytelling. Regarding naysayers, they will become believers after while.
How did you handle setbacks or lack of support, if you had any?
I handle setbacks and lack of support in a variety of ways. I have handled the few naysayers that I have encountered by going out and appealing to those who actually enjoy what I do. Later, they acknowledge that I came to them first, I laugh. I love people. It’s frustrating at times, but I laugh knowing that there are others who believe in me. Right now, I am thankful for every opportunity that YOU (Wanda) and others provide. There have been many authors who have given me the opportunity to make their great books come alive before audiences. From my understanding, more opportunities are out there!” (winking)
When did you know you wanted to help with literacy?
I came from a home where I had to learn bible verses and recite them on demand. Being able to recite them was impressive to me. Being able to comprehend what I had read was just as impressive as the memory. Maybe this was the start of something big. Since 1990, I have known that reading and storytelling was important to a child. I could tell each time I saw a child smile during story time in my classroom. Later, when deciding what I wanted to do ‘next’ in life, I knew it had to be something important such as making children smile. I make them smile best when I talk to them, tell stories, and read. I vow to read to 1 Million Children because I have a lot to share, and I want to continue to help children smile. I do this by ‘helping children develop the love of reading, one great story at a time!’
You’ll hear more about that campaign once people understand that my mission is beneficial to early learners everywhere.
What is your favorite type of book to read to the children? Why?
I enjoy picture books. In diverse audiences, pictures help children who haven’t had certain experiences connect with what others are already recalling images in their minds.
You are an incredibly positive person. Where do you get your inspiration?
I came from a home where our parents allowed us to dance with them and put on talent shows. Any of our neighbors could tell you that we enjoyed laughing and singing and having what we knew to be fun! Besides this, I figure, the other side of positivity is negativity…who needs more of that in life? Not me!
Do you have any rituals before or while you read to the children? I don’t like being around negative people before doing a show. I either need quiet time to sing a song, or to laugh just before taking the stage. Once I open my mouth to read, or tell stories, I lock eyes with that one special friend in the audience and I am comfortable! (laughing)
I don’t like being around negative people before doing a show. I either need quiet time to sing a song, or to laugh just before taking the stage. Once I open my mouth to read, or tell stories, I lock eyes with that one special friend in the audience and I am comfortable! (laughing)
How do you come up with your outfits?
I use my imagination. (laughing) Really, I do! I guess as an artist. I draw pictures and alter clothes to make my costumes. My mother is creative like that…I sometimes ask her what I should do, but I make them myself. In the future, you will see me wearing things that she has made for me to show her love for what I do for children!
What are you passionate about?
I’m a bit complex. I am passionate about many things, but I will tell you this: I am passionate about doing good for someone other than myself. That goodness comes in many forms such as reading and telling.
Was there someone in your childhood that inspired you or changed the direction of your life? Tell us about them and how you were changed.
I had one elementary teacher who gossiped about me when I was in school. I can’t even remember her name, but she inspired me to use positivity to erase the negative words that I could have been wired to believe.
I had a Home Economics teacher who made me laugh and told me that I am meant to be an educator. She passed away before I could tell her, “Thank you. I have changed lives, and YES! YOU were right!” (tears) I am writing a story in her memory. All I need is a good ending…it will come.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I will be performing more (paid contracts)!
You can expect a voice recording of my stories in 2017. The title of the CD is called “I’m Telling You!” because I will be telling valuable stories to those who love the unique style of Ms.B, The Storyteller!
If you could jump ahead in time, what would be happening for you? I
would have a spot on television. I would have amazing costumes that I’ve helped design. I would be traveling all over the world to do what I do best, make children smile by sharing the love of reading!!!
Anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked?
I’d like to tell others to invest in great stories and great storytellers, I know a few.
In closing, I will say, “Thank YOU (Wanda) for being influential to children in your community and around the world.” I love your stories! I will continue to read.