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Meet the owners who put Fort Mill Goddard Schools on the map

Updated: May 26, 2021

Fort Mill is lucky to have two Goddard Schools - one off Doby's Bridge Road and one on Gold Hill Road. From infant and toddler care to preschool, The Goddard School is a 21st century preschool known for its F.L.EX. learning program, STEAM education, and enrichment programs.

Caroline & Cole Smith and Bill & Amy Strickland

Bill & Amy Strickland, Owners of Fort Mill Goddard Schools

In 2009, the Stricklands opened the first Goddard School in Fort Mill off Gold Hill Road. Bill's previous job in Cleveland, Ohio involved a lot of traveling, and he was looking for a change of pace. His daughter was attending The Goddard School in Cleveland at the time. After talking with the school owners, the Sticklands saw an opportunity to settle closer to family in Fort Mill and open a Goddard School themselves.

How Fort Mill Goddard Schools Go Above National Standards

The Fort Mill Goddard schools stand out in educational standards of the teachers (full-time and salaried with benefits) and high academic standards. They teach to a national kindergarten standard the year before kindergarten, and the Gold Hill school was the first Goddard School in the Carolinas (out of 20+) to be Cognia Accredited. Many schools claim to be STEM oriented, but they were one of the first four preschools in the country to be accredited in early learning and STEM by Cognia. Bill says, "We have gone through intense review and evaluation; it’s part of our DNA. We were also the first preschool in the country to be recognized as “Exemplar” in the teaching of 21st Century Skills by The Partnership for 21st Century Learning or P21."

Bill said, with Goddard's high standards and strong curricular framework, they found that when you hire experienced, degreed teachers, they're able to go beyond national early learning standards.

Since their teachers have professional educations, many of whom have taught in public schools, they bring the Common Core Standards for Math, ELA, and Next Generation Science Standards. This helps accelerate children’s learning and prepare them for successful entry into kindergarten.

Caroline & Cole Smith, Co-Owners of Fort Mill Goddard Schools

Before moving to Fort Mill in 2019, Caroline was working at a Goddard School in Farragut, Tennessee. She took an Education Director position at Fort Mill's Goddard Schools, which led to conversations with the Stricklands about potential ownership. Fast forward to 2021, Caroline and her husband Cole are part owners of the Gold Hill Goddard School. Caroline says she loves seeing first-hand on a daily basis what Bill puts into it all, his passion for it, and what he's been able to create at both locations.

They pride themselves on going above and beyond to create a safe environment where children can learn and grow each day. The Goddard School education program is based on a learn-through-play philosophy with an emphasis on kindergarten readiness. Children are prepared for entry into school and the community by not only focusing on academics, but also on 21st century learning skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

The Smith's two toddlers attend The Goddard School, and Caroline says, "They are happy, thriving, and safe, and these teachers love them so well. It gives me joy that I feel that and that I know so many other parents feel it, too."

Bill Strickland appointed to the Goddard Systems Advisory Council

Goddard has been a leader in early childhood education for over thirty years and is trying to scale from 550 locations to over a thousand. Growth brings a myriad of challenges including scalable processes, systems, and support networks. The Advisory Council enables a small group of strong franchisees to offer constructive feedback and ideas to help Goddard grow and maintain its leading market position.

For Bill, seeing the kids grow physically, cognitively and socially-emotionally each day is tremendously satisfying. He says, "If the kids can’t make you laugh each day, you’re doing something wrong. To be able to run into these same kids years later and hear how well they are doing is just above the top. This job, done right, is tremendously rewarding."

868 Gold Hill Rd, Fort Mill, SC 29708

1930 Haire Rd, Fort Mill, SC 29715


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