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Conversations with the Inspiring Madeline and Jena McCrann

Today we’d like to introduce you to Madeline and Jena McCrann.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Jena: As my daughter approached 7th grade, I noted there was not a Junior Cotillion program here in The Woodlands. Growing up, it was a rite of passage for all Junior High students to attend Junior Cotillion. I had worked close to 20 years as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for Texas Children’s Hospital, private clinics and the school system and was eager to take on a new “project.” My sister-in-law, Madeline McCrann, was busily starting her family and teaching first grade at The John Cooper School. One night, we sat down and penned out a curriculum. We were both so excited to find National League of Junior Cotillions on our internet search accepting applications for Directors! We immediately applied, attended training in Atlanta and the rest is history!

Madeline: I had been an early elementary teacher for eight years in Ohio, DC, and most recently Texas. When Jena mentioned to me that there was no cotillion program in our area, I was surprised! I had gone through cotillion myself in Columbus, Ohio where I grew up and loved it. I know the true value of young ladies and gentlemen learning not only etiquette and formal courtesies but also in being given an outlet for social interaction. With our chapter growing so quickly (and my family growing so quickly, as well!) after a few years I stopped teaching to focus all my attention on our new chapter. Cotillion has been the perfect pairing of my first love, teaching, with giving our community a program that I believe teaches invaluable lessons.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been a rather smooth ride. We had a record-breaking inaugural year with the highest first year enrollment across over 200 chapters! Since then, we have steadily grown our Year I and Year II programs with attendance roughly around 150 students per year. We have just completed our 5th year of teaching Junior Cotillion and love our program more and more each year! It is our perfect job!

A tidbit of advice to women taking a leap to start a new business is to have an Advisory Board with women whom you value their opinions. It was priceless to have others advise us and give suggestions for marketing, programming, and to critique us on what worked or didn’t for our initial years. We also diligently reach out to the NLJC corporate office in Charlotte, NC for advice as needed. National League of Junior Cotillions does a fabulous job training directors every other summer at a convention so we make sure to attend and continue to grow our teaching and dancing skills.

A true testament to the success of our business has been our repeat families with younger siblings as well as our bountiful referrals we have each year. We are very pleased with our reputation and strive for excellence each year.

What should we know about National League of Junior Cotillions – The Woodlands Proper? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
NLJC The Woodlands Proper Chapter welcomes ladies and gentlemen in 5th-9th grades in The Woodlands, TX and surrounding areas. Our curriculum is designed to give students instruction and practice in the courtesies that make life more pleasant for them and those around them; to give them thorough training in standard ballroom dance; and to provide opportunities to practice and enjoy these skills at memorable parties, balls, dinners and events, complete with decorations, refreshments, favors and prizes.

The cotillion classes are a mix of etiquette instruction and formal dance including the cha cha cha, fox trot, waltz, beach shag/swing, and line dances. Dances are taught using current music that is screened for content. The social and character education components of the program include rules of proper telephone courtesy, acknowledgments of gifts, introductions, receiving lines, participating in group settings, polite conversation, paying and receiving compliments, sports etiquette, first impressions, dress code for all occasions, manners in the home and in public places, table manners, formal place settings, styles of dining including American, Asian, and Continental, skills involved in being a guest, hostess or host, and many other areas of social behavior. Other topics covered are the ethics involved in the areas of having honor, dignity, respect, honesty, fairness, a caring attitude, accountability, and citizenship.

We have two main events during our season. The Instructional Meal is a five course meal that takes place at The Woodlands Country Club. Over the course of two hours, we walk the students through a meal step-by-step, teaching them the proper way to tear (not cut!) bread, spoon their soup away from themselves, resting and finished positions for their utensils, etc. The culminating event of the season is our Grand Ball, also held at the country club. The ladies and gentlemen enjoy dancing, games, and dessert refreshments. The parents in our program look forward to the Grand Ball as well. Mothers of gentlemen students and fathers of lady students are invited to dance the waltz with their student as the last portion of our ball.

Pricing:

  • Year I $425
  • Year II $475

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Andrea Custer, Morgan Moore

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