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Here is a great story of the American Dream played out right here in College Station. 

southwood learning center

southwood learning center

In 1981 an Indian family decided to leave all they knew behind and chase the American Dream in College Station, Texas.  They brought their children, some savings and lots of hope for a bright future.  Of all places in the world, why College Station, Texas?

The gentleman had a brother who was a professor at the amazing institution known as Texas A&M, which possibly had a position open for him.

Once the family moved here, circumstances changed and the opening at the university was no more.  What to do?  A young family, a new country, young kids and disappointment looming in the horizon.  What to do, what to do?

The wife had been a teacher, once upon a time in India.  Her passion had always been children.  She had patience, love and a desire to teach, perhaps she could once again work in a school.  The elementary schools were not an option, too many differences in teacher requirements.  She volunteered at a local preschool while the husband looked for a new job.

One fine day as they were driving by a quiet street, they saw a “For Sale” sign on a daycare center.  “Let’s inquire” they both thought, “we have nothing to lose.”  They did and though the center only had 8 kids they decided to jump in with both feet and started Kiddie Castle Children’s Center.

The couple worked diligently to provide a warm and nurturing environment that felt like home for all their children and families.  They worked tirelessly to improve their curriculum and eventually began a Montessori curriculum.  This was an internationally recognized approach that allowed children the freedom to move at their own pace and reach levels typically unheard of in other curricula.

It was hard work, many hours with the whole family working every moment they had to make a go of the new business, even the children pitched in after school.    The first few weeks and months were grueling.  There was excitement paired with fear, what if this did not work?  At first, there were many dark clouds, but with prayer and continued efforts the school began to grow and expand until there were several schools including Southwood Learning Center.  The American Dream had become a reality.

This is the story of how my parents Syed and Muneer Hyder came to this country and established themselves and their business over a 30 year period.  Today, my parents are somewhat retired and have finally decided to slow down a little, but the original Kiddie Castle is still in business as is Southwood Learning Center.

I get to contribute to the history as the proud administrator of Southwood Learning Center.  Times have changed with new theories on child rearing and classroom management, but we still follow the century old Montessori curriculum and we still believe in children having a nurturing environment that allows them to explore the world around them in a safe and fun way.

It is exciting to see what can be accomplished in this country with a dream, hard work and opportunity.  It is even more exciting to be a part of it all.  How fortunate am I to be a part of this legacy and I look forward to many more years of working towards keeping the tradition of good education and a family atmosphere alive in Southwood Learning Center.