Community Voices: North Fulton moms start enterprises to help kids

As any school volunteer knows, moms are often behind the scenes ensuring that schools run smoothly. They’ll tackle any job to support their kids.

But then there are those who take their passion to the next level. Intelligent, experienced and determined to make a difference, these moms form businesses helping as many kids as they can.

Two of these mothers, Cynthia Hawkins of Johns Creek and Cindy Laubenstein of Alpharetta, saw students stressed out by the college search process. They started their own companies to ease this anxiety. Hawkins, a university grad with expertise in college testing, founded College Admissions Planning Services in 2008.

Laubenstein, an Alpharetta mom, also noticed students confused by college and career options. With degrees in psychology, business and counseling, she started Aspire College and Career Consulting five years ago after researching higher education. Like Hawkins, her personal approach supplements services provided by large public high schools, assuring student’s goals properly align with college choices.

Another mom, Jeannine Janot of Milton, has a PhD in psychology and ia an assistant professor at Georgia Perimeter College. She observed that some of her students struggled with managing classwork. Closer to home, parents sought her advice on student anxiety issues and ways to help over-extended kids.

She began her business, The Balanced Student, to reduce worry and keep kids healthy and productive. Working with middle, high school and college-aged students, she polishes their self-discipline mechanisms so they can manage their time, set their own goals, and fulfill their potential.

“Some kids get very stressed because they’re afraid to fail,” she told me. “They know what to do, but don’t know how to do it. It’s okay to have to learn these things.” Laubenstein and Hawkins echoed this theme, saying it’s thrilling when kids gain confidence.

Another Alpharetta mom, Whitney Christopher King, is a professional actress and theater teacher. She started her company, Building Character, after years of voluntarily directing student productions. With a deep belief that creative play can help kids develop self-esteem and life skills, she devised special classes stressing fun expression. Her after school programs run in several North Fulton area schools.

“I really started directing because I saw the arts, drama and music disappearing from our schools,” she told me. “It was the catalyst for me to do something. That morphed into the more specific programs. It’s great our schools focus on academics, but if we don’t have creativity, we’ll have a smart, but very boring, society.”

These moms are passionate about bringing out the best in every child. They express concerns that today’s kids are too stressed than they should be, too worried about fitting in, and too fixated on their phones and other distracting devices.

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