Dr. Shelta Richardson

Dr. Shelta Richardson

Dr. Shelta Richardson


Shelta Richardson, CEO of The Academy of Early Learning, has worked in the field of education for over 25 years in various settings, from corporate childcare to faith-based settings. Her college career also made an impact on her work with the Academy. She went to college to be a Band director and came out as a childcare director. “This is important because my love of the arts transferred into the very mission of the Academy. Towards my senior year in college, I fell in love with the business side of childcare. I watched directors fail miserably with their schools and so desperately wanted to help them,” explains Shelta. “My boss at the time allowed me to write a labor thesis for my MBA program that allowed me to test-drive different strategies to make schools successful. It was during this time that I developed a business model that simply succeeds. It is the very business model I used for the academy.”


The Academy of Early Learning is a not-for-profit ministry that has partnered in ministry with the local Church, providing a Christian educational (learning through play) environment and quality care program. The Academy is committed to offering parents an early learning experience for their children that is second to none in centers that offer environments where learning naturally flourishes. Each child is guided to develop their potential in every aspect of life within the shelter and nurturing relationship of Christian love. Their programs create experiences for children that develop a love of learning that will last them a lifetime.

Supporting Women

Within the academy setting, Shelta encourages her Directors to run the business independently. She steers clear of micro-management and focuses on exploring ideas that keep the company fresh and relevant. This mindset expands to their Assistant Directors trained to grow within the company. “I am always building my bench or tomorrow’s leaders. In fact, this is my favorite part of my job: developing leadership skills within the women I work with. Most of my management team consist of women who are millennials who I see leadership potential and/or are growing within the early education field. I also have baby-boomers who still long to make a difference within the workplace. I encourage each generation to learn from each other and to listen with an open mind actively. Ultimately, we have so much to learn from each other; therefore, we all have value to the organization.”

Beyond the academy, Shelta uses her consulting work to work with women who want to start their schools. She teaches and mentors them on all aspects of owning a business from HR, Financials, operations, labor management, crisis management, servant leadership, etc. “I want to believe that the ladies I work with believe I genuinely care about them as human beings (both professionally and personally). I truly want them to succeed. Many women have asked me why I share my resources with them, as we are often competitors. But I don’t see it that way. There are enough children to serve and besides they benefit when we run exceptional schools. So, I openly share the tools and resources I have created, so they succeed,” elucidates Shelta. “The primary way I inspire women entrepreneurs to become great leaders is through my consulting work. My clients are mostly women who are running child care centers. I work hard to take their ideas and present solutions that honor the direction they wish to go.”

Finding Success

There was a defining moment in Shelta’s leadership where she learned humility. “If I wanted something done, I used to think I was the one who had to do the job; however, I have learned to empower my team by asking them for help or letting them run with a project altogether,” she says. “My team knows I NEED them and I will always have their back. In doing so, they have my back and work very hard to see our schools do great. Humility has benefited tough talks with an upset employee or customer. As with any leader, mistakes and failures are realized.  It’s what you do with those mistakes and failures that define you as a leader.  Lord knows I have made mistakes, but when I do, I feel it is imperative that I apologize for when I make an error and then take steps to correct the issue.  Learning to say I am sorry is HUGE, but putting action behind that apology to make things right speaks volumes.  I truly seek to serve my team and take care of them.” Armed with such a unique ideology, Shelta took the company to new heights.

The Academy of Early Learning was formed to do something more than just education. Yes, ABCs and 123’s are important, but several schools are doing a great job teaching children. The Academy was meant to do so much more, and they wanted to teach children from a Biblical worldview as a Christian school.

Keep in mind that several schools are doing a great job of this. What sets the Academy apart from the rest is its goal to seek out opportunities to serve the community intentionally. They allow their youngest student to serve alongside their parents. They hope that as children see their model servant leadership, the next generation of leaders will be change-makers.

According to Shelta, everything being done must honor the mission and vision of the organization. She teaches her teams to honor every individual within the organization, for without them, the company would not succeed. “Not only do I teach it, but I model it. Within the childcare industry, we tend to attract young workers just coming out of high school or college or retiring women. As such, there are generational gaps that could cause barriers for our company,” she says. “I work very hard to teach everyone from the top down to value everyone and what they bring to the success of our company. From the youngest to the oldest, everyone contributes to our success. Our. Young people keep us relevant and up-to-date with technology and our “seasoned” teachers bring a wealth of maturity and wisdom to our team that our young workers value and desperately need.”

Outside of the academy, Shelta gives clients the tools they need to have ongoing success. She has clients who call her for advice or support to this day. “I know the work I do is beneficial, as the clients I have assisted with their start-up businesses are flourishing, and even the ones who were struggling are still thriving. Furthermore, I have a 100% success rate in securing financing for my clients with the business plans and demographic studies I conduct.” She goes on to say, “As a leader, it is my job to protect this company from harm. Therefore, there are many times I will take the heat or blame for a situation to protect the company. Even if it isn’t my fault, I own the outcome. I can always go back and reflect on what happened and then put systems/protocols in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Dr. Shelta Richardson

Dr. Shelta Richardson Award

" I work very hard to teach everyone from the top down to value everyone anad what they bring to the success of our company."

Dr. Shelta Richardson


The corporate magazine coverpage june 2022
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