Top 10 American Franchises

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Multi-Unit Owners Charles and Eilleen Johnson expand Lightbridge Academy throughout Nashville


Eileen Johnson, a Phillipina native and Nashville mother, spent the majority of her career in information technology – working as a software engineer and consultant before managing a software engineering technology company prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom for her young children.




While speaking with her husband Charles and his colleagues about the lack of early childhood education and preschools in the Nashville area, they jokingly mentioned they should open a location of their own, and now the husband-and-wife duo are introducing the Nashville market to at least five Lightbridge Academy locations, with the first two to open in Gallatin and Hendersonville. These locations are not only the first in the greater Nashville market but in the state of Tennessee, a huge milestone for the NJ-based brand.


Founded in 1997, Lightbridge Academy is an early education and child care franchise that provides care to children ages six weeks through kindergarten. The brand’s foundation is based on a set of core values and a Circle of Care philosophy, which places equal importance on supporting the needs of those involved in the care and education which includes the families, staff members, center owners and the community.


“Lightbridge’s philosophy of enriching c​​hildren’s lives goes hand-in-hand with our values and beliefs. As I went through training courses to immerse myself with the brand, I learned more about the company and what it stands for and am thrilled to bring this unique offering to the Gallatin community,” Eileen said. “With my passion for information technology, I am excited about Lightbridge’s innovative approach to child care and the many solutions we can provide to families. This includes enhanced technology to create a safer, healthier and more transparent learning environment for all those in our Circle of Care. We look forward to opening the Gallatin and Hendersonville area along with three other locations..”


With both Eileen and Charles being from business backgrounds, they knew simply having a distinctive concept, such as Lightbridge Academy’s was not enough but that they needed a support system that understood their core values in their journey to become multi-unit franchisees.


“It’s important to really understand the culture and values of the franchisor and make sure they align with your own,” Eileen said. “We also spoke with other franchisees to understand their successes and challenges and how they got started with their location which proved to be helpful for us.”


Not only did the Johnsons receive support from other franchisees, but from the corporate team itself by providing hands-on training, business development coaching, management support, and help with advertising and marketing.

“We are just so excited to partner with Eilleen and Charles,” said Lightbridge Academy CEO Gigi Schweikert. “Their support and engagement in the local community and to see how they are bringing the Lightbridge Academy brand to life, is what makes franchising so rewarding. To see franchisees adding value to the lives of children and families while also creating a legacy for their own family is truly special. .”

Lightbridge Academy began franchising in 2011 to expand their distinctive concept throughout the Mid-Atlantic region; it currently has over 130 child care centers either open, under construction or in development throughout Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Texas. It is one of the fastest-growing early education child care franchise opportunities in the U.S.