Mother. Jet-setter. Educator. Advocate. Since 1999, Paula Polito, Ph.D., a third-generation businesswoman, has owned and operated Beary Cherry Tree, a five-star childcare center in Metairie. Over the last five years, she’s taken a step back from her director role to focus on advocating for early childcare and education. She even recently earned her Ph.D. in Urban Studies. Dr. Polito serves in many vital roles, but perhaps her most cherished role is being a mom. Paula and her husband, Darrin, owner of Performance Therapy Services, have three children: Preston, a senior football player on the search for colleges, Sophia, a brilliant softball star, and Pierce, the charismatic, youngest kid of the bunch.
5 Things I’m Currently Loving:
Since purchasing the center from my mother, every day I was developing relationships with families and teachers and making this the very best childcare center it could be. Part of that journey was to get out and find what the best practices look like. So I became involved in different trainings and workshops and met people that way.
I want all children to be able to access high-quality care and education, so I advocate in many ways. I serve as the chair for the Louisiana Department of Education Early Childhood Advisory Board; I’m on this Birth-to-Three commission; I’m an on an NFP Task Force; and I was on the governor’s task force commission after COVID. So I’ve played a lot of vital roles, not only at the state level but for Jefferson Parish too. It’s a group called Jefferson Ready Start network, and we advocate for all type three, high-quality childcare centers in Jefferson Parish.
It’s been a journey– a great journey– and I’m excited to be where I am today.
We were able to knock a few things off the list this trip: my husband’s birthday, my kids’ love of the sport, and my love of travel. It was a great trip. We were in and out so quickly, but my little one got to meet the LSU baseball players, and he was thrilled! It was super fun connecting with the team and being able to cheer them on.
My husband and I have been married for 20 years now. For our anniversary, we went to France, and we took a ship from Nice to Barcelona. It was a beautiful trip with three other couples, and we just got to bond and enjoy. When you have three kids and you both own companies, it’s very difficult to put time away. So it was a nice quiet time for us to just get away. My favorite stop was Corsica: so beautiful, peaceful, and tranquil. We rode e-bikes, and it was fun exploring different areas.
Supporting The Kids
Brother Martin football is a huge thing for us right now since Preston plays. It takes up a lot of his time, and that’s a big thing for my husband too. My daughter plays softball for Mount Carmel, and that kicks in in the spring. My little one does a lot since he’s 11, like flag football and basketball. Between school and Pontiff Playground, we just do whatever the sport is of the season.
Sunday Family Dinners
When you have a 17-year-old son with a vehicle, you rarely see him except for on the football field or at dinner. So on Sundays, I’ll cook dinner and have everybody over, including my dad. So, everybody’s home. We watch football and hang out. I like to change it up, but spaghetti and meatballs is always a popular entree.