Ask Courtney Buchanan how long she’s been a Teams of Tomorrow director and she has to pause and count. She’s surprised when her answer is five years.
“Wow,” she said. “That doesn’t seem right.”
It’s not surprising that life moves quickly for Courtney. Not only is she a TOT franchise owner, she’s also raising three kids (a 16-month old, an 8-year old, and a 23-year old) with her husband, and has a full-time job as a paralegal that she’s held for 12 years.
She said adding TOT to her life was an easy choice. For her and her family, having a successful franchise doesn’t mean having every school imaginable.
“To me, it’s not all about making a living and paying bills when it comes to TOT,” she said. “The schools I have, they’re awesome. I love the directors and the teachers at the daycares. At the beginning I was like’ I’m going to this school and this school,’ but people aren’t always nice. I’ve been lucky for it to stay fun and I don’t really stress about it.”
Courtney’s history with TOT has been somewhat seamless even from the initial start, something she considers a true blessing. She was introduced to TOT when her son participated at the preschool he was attending. Courtney said she and her husband were at a performance and she couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
“I told my husband ‘I don’t know what these people are doing, but they’re getting these three-year-old boys to stand on a dot and be perfectly in sync,’” she said. “Somebody is doing something right.”
A few weeks later, the then-franchise owner sent an email to current TOT parents announcing she was selling her franchise and wanted to see if any parents were interested. For Courtney, it was a no brainer.
Toward the end of that season, Courtney attended classes and performances with the then-owner. She credits getting to meet the parents and having the support of the owner making her transition into TOT so easy.
“She had built such a good program,” she said. “She enjoyed the kids and the daycares she worked with. She had built good relationships. I was Ms. Tot before the season ended and that was really beneficial.”
In her first year, Courtney taught all of her classes, while holding down a full time job as a paralegal. After the birth of her daughter, she hired two family members to take on teaching roles. Having the support of her whole family is something Courtney not only appreciates, but enjoys, plus everyone is invested in the program.
“Having the support of your family is super, super helpful,” she said. “And my husband…he’s done all the TOT open houses. It really involves everyone. My oldest son, my mom…I make everyone part of the TOT family.”
Courtney has also found a family within the TOT community. She said she is lucky to have many siblings and children who spend a full three years in the program. Because of that, she’s gotten to know quite a few families and carries many touching stories.
One story in particular made Courtney emotional when she recalled it. Courtney was teaching Tiny TOT at an elementary school and had a mother approach her about her son potentially participating. The little boy had older siblings and loved watching them play basketball and he wanted to as well. The little boy had Down’s Syndrome and his mom was concerned about his ability to participate and do the drills.
“He wanted to play so bad,” Courtney said. “His mom said, ‘We’ve never been able to do this. I don’t want it to be a problem for you.’ TOT is something he could do at his own pace and we were willing to help if it came down to needing extra help. But, he never needed help.
All of the kids in the class would be his partner. It made my heart happy. It was more difficult for him but he never quit. He performed in the halftime show…and knowing that his mom wasn’t sure if he could do it and then seeing him perform, it was just awesome.”
Courtney has more stories she could share of children who grew exponentially while participating in TOT and for her that’s what makes it worth it.
“It’s a good investment,” she said. “Having something to share and be proud of and having the support we have from TOT national, you can’t go wrong with a TOT business.”