Passion part of Muse Global program
Muse Global students choose a passion and “we wrap their academics” around that, says Rebecca Amis, whose childhood education concept also serves plant-based lunches.
With a mission to inspire and prepare people “to live consciously with themselves, one another and the planet,” Muse Global could initially be mistaken for an environmental nonprofit instead of an early childhood education concept that just began a franchise program.
Environmental sustainability is interlaced with every aspect of Muse, including through a plant-based lunch program and on-site gardens, and co-founder Rebecca Amis wants to take the school she and sister Suzy Amis Cameron created in 2006 to new markets.
Muse began with 11 students on a small campus nestled into the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains near Calabasas, California, and is poised to grow after Amis and school head Jeff King spent the last few years creating a franchise model and hiring a dedicated franchise team, including Director of Franchise Development Aaron McMartin. A longtime franchise consultant, McMartin most recently was senior director of development for Office Evolution.
“Passion-based learning” is how Amis describes the model, which in the United States will focus on students age 2 through kindergarten for the franchise rollout. The California campus offers education through high school, and the international franchise opportunity provides a model and curriculum through middle school.
“Students 2 to 6 years old choose a passion and we wrap their academics and pre-academics around that,” explains Amis. “Students have a voice in their education. We also have something called the blueprint. It’s how we address student development, so we have a story about each student that follows them through.”
Amis, also the chief innovation officer, has a background in psychology and a master’s degree in child studies. She started a similar childcare program in Wichita, Kansas, before her sister, who is married to Hollywood director James Cameron, convinced her to relocate to California and open Muse. The early childhood curriculum is based on the Reggio Emilia approach, which values mutual respect between teacher and student and focuses on accommodating the interests of each child, along with promoting healthy living and responsibility for the Earth.
“The Muse philosophy is very much about listening to students,” notes King, also Amis’ husband and the CEO of Muse Global. “Key to it is this concept of self-efficacy—my belief in my ability to be successful. We’re teaching them to believe in themselves and so they’re competing against themselves versus other students.”
Muse conducted market research in cities such as Dallas, Denver and Atlanta to determine what sort of academic program parents wanted for their children and, says King, “There’s a high demand for premium early childhood schools and the type of philosophy we have.” Core academics are part of the model, along with specialist educational programs such as Seed-to-Table, Maker Space and World Languages.
“We also have a heavy emphasis on a healthy diet, which parents are very interested in at the early childhood level,” continues King, in reference to Muse’s organic, plant-based nutrition program.
With annual tuition priced at $27,768 for the early childhood program, King acknowledges Muse franchisees will have to identify markets with the right demographics to afford the cost, adding it’ll be up to the local owners to determine how they’ll handle financial aid. The initial investment range is $432,125 to about $2.2 million, and Muse is targeting franchise candidates “focused on profitability and with an interest in sustainability and bringing sustainability to children in their community,” says King.
“And people, investors, who recognize that our current education system is sort of collapsing,” he continues. “We’re preparing kids for jobs that aren’t going to exist.”
Muse has already given tours of its California campus to potential franchisees from Oklahoma, Colorado and Michigan, and recently signed an agreement for three schools in China and Hong Kong.
For U.S. franchisees, Amis notes she is well versed in state-by-state regulations and licensing for childcare and education programs, adding, “I’ll be providing a lot of support in that area.”
As for the James Cameron connection, Amis says her brother-in-law is supportive of his wife’s efforts and an advocate of the Muse model. Cameron is also featured in a video on the franchise information webpage: “Why would other people invest in Muse School?” he says. “The same reason I invested in Muse School: because it’s a great idea, it’s a great school. It’s a great concept for how children can and should learn.”