Nurture & Grow

Nan Rikards mission has always been to nurture & grow the minds of children

Nan Rikard, Founder of Big Blue Marble Academy, grew up in Gilbert, SC. Her nurturing spirit came from her upbringing, as her grandparents, as well as her parents and their siblings started and operated Rikard's Nursing Home in Lexington, which later became Lexington Extended Care. 

She has fond memories of spending summers and afterschool at the nursing home, visiting and interacting with the residents. As a young girl, her interest in the world began when she watched a show called The Big Blue Marble—a weekly children's show that explored the lives, homes and cultures of children around the world and recalls having pen pals all throughout her childhood. As an adult, Nan and her family have hosted several children from orphanages as well as exchange students from Eastern Europe. 

During her career in Early Childhood Education, after having three children of her own, Taylor, Collin and Gena, she knew she wanted to create something that would expose them to world language, provide cultural understanding and awareness and focus on giving back to their community. With her children in mind, she created Big Blue Marble Academy in 2012. 

In 2014, Nan experienced an unexpected calling, when she and her family hosted a 7-year-old orphan from Latvia. After multiple visits, they quickly knew that this little girl should be a part of their family. In 2017, after three years of the complexities involved in international adoption, Vladi officially became a member of their family. All four of her children share that same passion for language, cultural awareness and giving back.

What started as Big Blue Marble Academy in a 100-year-old house in Gilbert has since grown to 45 locations all over the southeast. Living by its mission to Nurture Little Minds and Grow Big Hearts, Big Blue Marble Academy has grown and adapted over the last decade to provide a robust preschool curriculum that helps ensure children are cognitively, socially, and emotionally prepared for kindergarten and beyond. Inspired by Nan’s upbringing, Big Blue Marble Academy’s hands-on Heart Projects, an innovative program implemented in all of its schools, teach children the importance of giving back, which prepares them to become compassionate members of their community, country and world. Nan is proud of what Big Blue Marble Academy has grown into and looks forward to serving the next generation, as she now has a one-year-old grandson.

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