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Rainbow Station continues its expansion in Asia

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli
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Gail Johnson

Only 17 months after opening its first international school in China, Henrico County-based Rainbow Station is preparing to expand to another Asian country, Indonesia.

Rainbow Station plans to open a 5,000-square-foot school this August in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital and largest city. The Indonesian location will offer a half-day morning program for preschool, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten pupils, plus afternoon enrichment classes in the arts, languages and recreation.

“Rainbow Station has an excellent early education program with a focus on creativity and leadership skills,” Patricia Ariani, one of Rainbow Station’s Indonesian partners, said in an email. “This curriculum, along with the American-style balance of child-directed and teacher-directed learning in an English-language environment, will deliver what Indonesian parents want to make their children successful.”

The Indonesian team involved with the school includes Ariani; her father, Aryanto Agus Mulyo; Howard Lukmito; and his son, Harry. Ariani and her father are accountants, while the Lukmitos are executives with a seafood and food-products company.

Ariani says the group was considering starting an American-style, English-language program in Indonesia when they found out about Rainbow Station through the U.S. Commercial Service. It is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

Gail Johnson was a pediatric nurse when she founded Rainbow Station in 1989. She wanted to offer a child-care alternative for working parents with mildly or chronically ill children. Johnson started “The Get Well Place” at Rainbow Station, which provides emergency backup care for children with common childhood illnesses. In addition to “The Get Well Place,” Rainbow Station sites in the U.S. include nursery, preschool, kindergarten and after-school programs.

In expanding overseas, Rainbow Station officials debated the best way to offer their program, since an approach that may work in one nation may not work in another. In China, for example, Rainbow Station’s first location is in a shopping mall, a popular gathering spot. There, the school offers 60- to 75-minute classes that focus on a different part of the Rainbow Station curriculum (“The whole family lives together, so they only like to take their children for small educational bites, if you will,” Johnson says.)

The company plans to grow quickly abroad through franchises. It has eight franchises in the U.S. In China, the goal is to open 110 schools within five years. In Indonesia, the plan is to open eight to 10 schools in the same time period.

Rainbow Station opened its second Chinese school in the Guangdong Province in May and expects to open a third one in the same province later this year.

Rick Sample, president of Rainbow Station International, says Asia is a good continent for expansion.  Many countries there have a growing middle class with disposable income that they want to spend on their children. However, it is also looking at other countries that fit those demographics.

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