Cedar Hill

Pandemic Sparks Business Idea for Cedar Hill Friends to Help Students Learn Remotely

Gabrielle George and Lauren Houston met in the 1990s as students in the Cedar Hill Independent School District. Now the two friends are helping give back to their community during the pandemic.

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Early Wednesday morning, parents dropped their children off for the school day at a house in Cedar Hill with chalk drawings leading up the driveway and sidewalk, all the way to the door.

"I obviously didn't go to school during a pandemic," George said.

The pandemic sparked a business idea to start a remote learning pod for students who are taking classes online at home. It's called 'Learn & Grow'.

"This is a passion project for both Gabby and I," Lauren Houston said. Houston and George met in the 1990s when they were students in Cedar Hill, and have been best friends ever since.

"Me and Lauren have always had dreams of starting our own business," George said. "But it wasn't until the pandemic hit that we came up with this great idea."

The business plan was born out of listening to the struggles their extended families were having trying to manage work and school under one roof.

"It was kind of a nightmare," Quintell Solomon said. Solomon takes his two children, Deuce and Phoenix, to Learn & Grow. "It was kind of a lifesaver because I could get back to doing just half the job, which is not being a parent and a teacher. So it's been lifesaving!"

Learn & Grow has tutors on-site to help students make sure their work is getting done. Students have to fill out a COVID checklist each day. The staff takes their temperatures at the door and dispenses hand sanitizer. Everyone inside is required to wear a face mask.

"We wanted to start in Cedar Hill because Cedar Hill has made us who we are today. It's been part of our own development, so we wanted to give back to the community and help develop it," Houston said.

"It definitely brings me joy to see our students able to continue doing well in school, even through a pandemic," George said.

Learn & Grow has room for 16 students with social distancing. George and Houston hope to expand their business beyond Cedar Hill.

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