Fourteen years ago, second-grade teacher and mother of four Sharon Duke Estroff was at the height of what she calls her Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde phase. By day, she was an award-winning teacher with a classroom full of happy students; but by night, she was a stressed-out mom who could barely muster the energy to help her kids with their homework. Estroff knew it was time for a career change, but as an educator born into a family of educators, she couldn’t imagine straying too far from the schoolyard. So she took Challenge Island® – a S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) education program she’d created for her elementary students – and began offering it as an afterschool enrichment class in nearby schools. Challenge Island® was a hometown hit and before long, Estroff had created a profitable home-based business that she could run around her family’s busy schedule.
With the rise of S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.A.M in the educational marketplace, Estroff had a hunch that there would be a demand for Challenge Island® in other markets too. Her hunch was right. Today, Challenge Island is one of the fastest growing educational franchises in the world, with S.T.E.A.M. power fueling its impressive trajectory across the United States and beyond.
As C.E.O., Estroff has grown her Atlanta-based company to 60 franchise units with locations in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia – and international locations in Egypt and the Philippines. At least six new Challenge Island units are expected to open this summer, and growth is predicted to continue at this strong and healthy pace in the coming months and years. Perhaps not surprisingly, many Challenge Island franchisees are busy moms looking for flexible businesses themselves.
And as for our Momtrepeneur and her busy family, Mrs. Hyde still makes an occasional appearance in the Estroff home, but the sightings are far fewer and farther between.
Sharon Duke Estroff
Challenge Island Founder and C.E.O.
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