On June 30, as Laura Ouellette and Janet Street wave goodbye to the children leaving Busy Bee’s Preschool for the summer, there will probably be more than the usual number of tears, because that day will also mark the beginning of their retirement and closing of the business where they’ve worked together for over 23 years.
“We’ve actually been working together for 32 years,” says Laura. “I hired Janet a year after I opened Busy Bee’s Daycare in 1989, and we’ve been friends and colleagues ever since.”
Busy Bee’s Preschool opened its doors in 1998, and Laura and Janet have prepared many of Powell River’s children for success in the school system, as well as fostered friendships and helped them gain confidence.
“We hope that we’ve had a positive impact on the kids, and in turn a positive impact on the community,” says Laura. “It’s an emotional job, but we’ve had so much positive feedback from parents and from kids as they get older about how much being at Busy Bee’s meant to them. That kind of feedback keeps you going.
A lot has been accomplished over the last few decades, says Janet.
“We held ourselves to a high standard of service to the kids and families,” she adds. “When people ask me where I work, I say ‘Busy Bee’s Preschool,’ and I’m so proud every time I say it.”
Having worked with Powell River kids for more than 30 years means children who attended their daycare or preschool are now young adults, some with their own children.
“One of the things that’s great about Powell River is that we see so many of our Busy Bees out in the community,” says Janet. “We run into them working at stores or restaurants, and it’s so great to catch up and find out how they’re doing. We’ve also had some of our day-care kids bring their own children to our preschool. It really has gone full circle, and that’s so rewarding.”
It was a difficult decision to retire, but both Laura and Janet feel it’s time. Laura is looking forward to spending time with her two grandchildren – Madison is 15 months and Ihsaan is 20 months – and Janet is considering becoming a lifeguard again, as well as working with seniors.
“We will certainly miss working with children,” says Laura. “We have met and taught so many wonderful kids and amazing families. More than anything, we want to thank all the families for choosing Busy Bee’s Preschool and filling our lives with joy. Janet and I feel so fortunate to have had a career we’ve loved for so many years.”
In addition to missing the children, Laura and Janet will miss seeing each other every day, but they plan to have many adventures together in the future.
“I want to thank Laura so much for everything,” says Janet. “Not only for being the best boss, but also for always being there for me and my family. Our friendship is unlike any other.
“We have worked together day in and day out, and we also quite often hang out on weekends or after work. I know I can call her anytime and she’ll be there for me, and I will be there for her. I feel so lucky to have that kind of friend, and I know our friendship will never end.”
Once the last child leaves on June 30, the lights are turned off, and the doors are locked, Laura and Janet might just skip down the driveway, hop into a fancy car and drive into the summer with hope for the future and some pain for the past they are leaving behind. But one thing that is not in question is that they have made a difference for children in the region for over 30 years.
If residents would like to congratulate Laura and Janet on their retirement, they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.