Sue Rihani

Owner, Wellington Academy & Naples Preschool
Wellington Academy & Naples Preschool
5244 Ramsey Way
Fort Myers, FL 33907
(239) 275-8818

From The Desk of Sue Rihani…

“Why not create a child care center where the teachers have a Ph.D. in hugs?”  That was the thought that entered my mind when my uncle Ace suggested that we partner to create an amazing child care program where children and families feel loved while being part of an inspiring community of future leaders.

Although our program was founded by Faye Jones in 1985, I carry on the legacy she started while building my own.  I strive daily to provide the best experience for children in a preschool setting.

It’s true that I could have embarked on any business adventure, so why was it child care that became the business I decided on?  Let me answer that question and share a piece of my heart with you so you can get a glimpse of the special place and the incredibly dedicated staff that make up Wellington Academy.

As far back as I can remember, I have always loved children.  There was something magical about being around children and interacting with them.  The funny thing was they were always drawn to me.  Like a magnet, they wanted me to hold them.  They wanted me to play with them, and so I did.  I spent countless hours with my young nieces and nephews.  This brought great joy to my heart.  As I grew older I couldn’t imagine my life without kids.  I desired a family of my own someday filled with the magic that I felt with the kids who were drawn to me early on.

I got to experience this magic on a whole new level when my mother owned a preschool in the late 1980s.  My aunt owned one as well.  I had a front-row seat to seeing young minds learn and grow when they’re in an environment that inspires curiosity and encourages independence.

I went on to start a family of my own, as I desired the magic that having a child in my life would avail me.  To be a mom — what a fantastic gift that would be! To hold my own little miracle in my arms was my deepest desire.  I feel that children are so very precious and a reflection of God.  Their questions are so innocent and their energy makes my heart flutter.  I just knew deep in my heart that children would be a big part of my life.  I could feel it!  Then, I was hit with the news.  After being rushed to the hospital and nearly dying, I discovered that I had an ectopic pregnancy and that I would probably never have children of my own.  What?  What are the doctors saying?  I may never have a child of my own?  How could this be?  I was truly devastated.   

I thought about the news and came to look at motherhood and parenthood with a different set of eyes.  I thought about all of the people who purposefully decided to love children they didn’t give birth to.  People like adoptive parents, step-parents and foster parents.  This experience helped me to realize that parenthood and motherhood is about a decision that you make to love a child and a commitment you make to nurture another human being whether you give birth to the child yourself or someone else does.    

My desire was strong and I decided that children would still somehow be a part of my life.  Then the opportunity presented itself: “Would you like to run a child care program?”  I felt a surge of life run through my entire being that said, “YES! Yes, I would.”  I jumped on the opportunity and absolutely love it.

Today I’m thrilled to be the owner of an award-winning child care with six locations to serve our community.  How blessed am I that I get to experience magical moments with children and their families daily?   I take pride in partnering with parents to help children grow and realize their full potential in a bright, warm, loving environment that was built and designed with the young child in mind.  We offer a well-rounded curriculum that exceeds state standards, providing a balance between superior academics and extraordinary fun.  I feel we set the foundation for future doctors, engineers, artists and community leaders at this very young age, by exposing them to a diversity of material, methods, stories, songs, books and activities in a preschool. These experiences open children’s minds to explore the unknown and grow with it.  And of course, let’s not forget the importance of hugs and how we specialize in them at Wellington Academy because we do it from our heart.