We hear how Georgina Hood turned a passion for children and education into the innovative Paint Pots House, a place for creative minds and developing self-esteem.
Most of us spend years working out what we want to do when we ‘grow up.’ Changing our mind from one day dreaming of being a vet to the next wanting to be a popstar. So when Georgina tells me she always knew she wanted to work with children, I can’t help but be impressed by her passion.
“It’s a weird thing to try and explain. It’s just something that was in me, I knew from school when I used to help with brownies and I did my Duke of Edinburgh that I wanted to work with children.”
At just eighteen Georgina went to work in a school as an apprentice and it was here where she discovered her talent for teaching.
“I was helping a teacher to teach seven year olds and she got Glandular Fever so I just ended up taking the class. I was so young that it would never happen now, but then it just sort of worked.”
As Georgina continued to teach she began to realise that she could make a difference and improve the way children learned about the arts.
“It was in the early eighties and as a cocky young teacher working in a school in Notting Hill, I wasn’t comfortable on how they viewed the arts. They would focus on the end result rather than the process. One day, I had a ‘that’s it’ moment when I was doing art with some children. They were all meant to be doing self-portraits and when the children would put the body parts in the wrong place the teacher would unstick them and correct them. I just knew instinctively that wasn’t right. “
This inspired Georgina to set up an art club in the nursery school where there was a focus on the child’s self esteem rather than the end result. By half term the whole of the nursery school were coming to Georgina’s art class and when she moved to Pineapple Dance Studios, the same thing happened and when she started running drama and music classes, she received a similar positive response.
Twenty five years later, Paint Pots House now offers a range of creative classes including Developmental, Music, Creative Art, Dance , Cookery and will soon be helping parents with their new workshops. And just last year each of the three Montessori Nursery schools were MEAB Accredited. But even with the growth of Paint Pots Georgina has maintained a hands on role within the company.
“I still personally take all the baby classes for the six months to the 18 months and I think I have helped develop the company over 25 years through picking up things I have done with my own children. I get to try things I have experienced with my children and I get to weave in things in my classes that I have done with them. With twins and a child with special needs, i’ve ticked a lot of boxes, giving me a lot of empathy when working with other families.”
Talking about her four children and how they have influenced her work at Paint Pots, it is easy to see Georgina’s dedication to both. However, I have to wonder how she finds time to raise four children, teach classes and still run a successful business.
‘I think the balance word is very important. I don’t think you ever stop being a perfectionist but you have to rub off the corners of the perfection and be very adaptable. The first thing I did was bring the office into our home when the children were a lot younger and that gave me a lot of flexibility. Then when they were a bit older they could come with me to work and be part of it in someway. “
In addition to her work with Paint Pots, Georgina has also been passionate about improving schools in Kenya, with her work on The Kipungani Schools Trust.
“ I went for a holiday to escape from the children and I knew when we booked the holiday that there was a primary school in the village. I just quietly asked could I visit and do a drama and music class with the children. I ended up having an extraordinary day and I was shocked and upset at how rundown the school was it was like a disused cattle shed.”
When Georgina came back home she decided to rebuild the school and ten years on The Kipungani Schools Trust have rebuilt thirteen state primary schools, set up a polytechnic, a sewing group for the girls that don’t get into secondary school and created a CD of music.
“ I think the charity is another good example of if you have vision and you focus on what you want and you don’t worry about all the little bits and pieces in between you can spread a lot of fairy dust. “
As our interview comes to an end I am left feeling amazed and inspired how she has achieved so much and is still so humble. But when I ask her what her secret to her success is her answer is simple, “passion, don’t worry about ‘what if’ ,it will fall into place if you believe in what you want to do.”
For more information about Paint Pots visit www.paintpotshouse.com
For more information about the Kipungani Schools Trust visit www.thekstrust.com