Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabrielle Alvarado Mixon and Christine LaBita.
Gabrielle and Christine, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Christine (Chris) and I both began our careers out of the University of Houston as teachers in Houston ISD at Lantrip Elementary. Over the course of our experience, we have worked together in three schools. In 2001, I returned to the University of Houston to complete my Master’s of Education Program to go into educational administration.
While I was serving as a school administrator and Chris as a teacher at The School at St. George Place, we served on many shared decision making committees that elected no less than 3 after school programs in a time span of as many years.
During those program’s tenures, we noticed repeatedly that these after school programs were lacking in organization, structured activities, experienced and engaged caregivers, and relationships with the parents and students they served. Chris and I began talking about how we would do it better if given the opportunity.
We were presented with that opportunity when our beloved principal, whom we had followed to two schools, retired. After a lot of deliberation and thought, we decided to take the leap of faith and start our own program. Thus After3 was born.
We began after 3 in 2011 with two schools, The School at St. George Place and Grady, now Tanglewood, middle school and no business experience!
Over the last six years, we have grown from two schools and 10 employees to 6 schools, (this has fluctuated – you gain one, you lose one) and 39 employees. We recently had the honor of being named #45 out of 100 of the fastest growing Cougar owned businesses for 2017. This was a huge accomplishment for us and we look forward to continued growth and success as we begin 2018.
Not having any business experience or business backgrounds, this has been a tremendous learning curve for us. My experience as a school administrator was very helpful and instrumental in all our our Human Resource areas of need and Chris’ experience with organizing and developing curriculum was great for getting our sites organized and suited for care. So, we have managed to come out just fine. We have experienced a few pitfalls and lessons along the way, but they have all been instrumental in getting us to where we are today.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No, we have learned a lot of little lessons about taxes, hiring of new employees, and issues pertaining to the Texas Workforce Commission, budgeting for summer months with no revenue and the expense of running a small business.
Hurricane Harvey really affected us financially this school year as well, due to the late start of school, and people just all being financially unprepared for such devastation. As we enter 2018, we are thankfully starting to catch back up and our staff and families are getting their “normal” lives back.
One of the most difficult challenges we face is that, we love to hire college students. Especially, those that are education, psychology or other child related field majors. They are great employees but they graduate and have to be replaced. It is always bittersweet for us.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
After 3 specializes in providing quality after school care for students in PK-8th grades, we are known for running a structured and well organized program with quality enrichment opportunities and a great team of staff members.
We are most proud of the success and growth we have attained in a relatively short time. Especially since neither of us knew how to run a business! We also realize none of this growth would have happened without the amazing team we have developed. We think that is what sets us apart. We truly care for our team members. After 3 is like an extended family, for Chris and me.
What sets us apart from others is the care and selection we put into hiring and training team members, genuine care for your child and the building of a relationship between our program and the families we serve.
What were you like growing up?
Gabrielle – I loved playing “teacher” with my friends and stuffed animals. I was very shy and quiet in school and never liked public speaking of any kind. I always knew that I wanted to work with children, so teaching and social work were always front runners on my career path. When I began teaching, and later when I moved into administration, and then business ownership, I had to get over my fear of public speaking very quickly!
Christine – I was also shy when I was younger, and still am a little bit. I was a cheerleader in high school, so I came out of my shell a little at that time. I have always enjoyed arts and crafts, and creating lessons. Teaching was a career path that came naturally. Business ownership has provided me with an opportunity to create something from the ground up and I love what I do!
- Pricing for elementary program is $290 per month and middle school is $260
- We have a registration fee of $50 per year
- In order to participate in Enrichment Clubs only, (with no additional after school program time) it is $50 per semester, plus the cost of the class(es)
- Address: Main Office
3033 Chimney Rock Road, Suite 222
Houston, TX 77056
Ashford Elementary, Durham Elementary, Oak Forest Elementary, Katherine Smith Elementary, Mark White Elementary, and Tanglewood Middle School
- Website: www.after3asp.com
- Phone: 713-269-5936
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: after_3_asp
- Facebook: After 3 After School Programs
- Yelp: After 3
Rocio Subira, Rocio Carlon Studios and Mad Meg Creative