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The Goddard Standard of Excellence

How two local schools make the passing grade

Article by Nicole Bell

Photography by Payton Wright Photography

Originally published in Gallatin Lifestyle

Childhood development and a flexible learning environment are more than just reaching milestones. Entrepreneur Anthony A. Martino established The Goddard School in 1988 with a mission to offer a high-quality, play-based, learning program to families across the United States. Serving more than 70,000 students from six weeks to six years in over 560 schools, in 38 states, still, 34 years later Mr. Martino’s mission holds true and Goddard continues to exceed expectations in early education. In our area, we are fortunate to have two premier Goddard locations that truly are making the grade and making a difference. The Goddard Schools in Hendersonville and Gallatin are shining stars in our community.

For Dave and Kara Brumley, their story and calling begins and ends with serving the community and making an impact in the lives of our local children. With a Master’s Degree in Child Development and over 20 years in educational leadership, Kara progressed through different management and consulting roles with non-profits and larger corporations around the country and Dave was in engineering sales. Having moved to Middle Tennessee 15 years ago for Dave’s job, a few years after arriving, Dave and Kara were expecting twins and Kara left the corporate world to run her own small business. Through this venture, Kara met Leisa Byars who opened the Goddard School of Hendersonville in 2010. Kara joined the Goddard team in Hendersonville as a Director there and fell in love with the community that was growing and focused on the developmental goals of the children. A few years later, Dave and Kara themselves opened the Goddard Gallatin location with the same passion and desire to make a difference in early childhood education in our local area. Since then, and in addition to Kara operating the Gallatin location, Dave left his successful engineering sales career after 20 years and is now the onsite owner at the Hendersonville location. “Because we believe in this business and our community so much, we are all in,” Kara says.


For Dave and Kara, it’s about turning everyday encounters into teachable moments, allowing children’s interests to influence their learning experiences by balancing academic, mental, physical and social-emotional growth. “We are dedicated to quality in everything we do. From education to health, safety, community, facilities–we never cut corners,” says Kara. “We recruit educated and experienced teachers who love children and train them on Goddard’s F.L.E.X. framework for education.” From infant to Kindergarten readiness, dedication to partnering with parents in their child’s early childhood journey is of the uppermost importance.


Goddard offers both full-time and part-time programs for families who are looking for a stronger educational focus. Outside of Goddard’s umbrella curriculum, several enrichment programs are implemented and used on a daily basis by the teachers. Some of the programs included in this curriculum are sign language and yoga classes. This fall, Goddard will be adding an Enrichment Teacher who specializes in enrichment STEM, Spanish, music and chess activities, as well as focusing on various library activities. All of these programs will be included as a focus for all Goddard students.

Goddard schools have garnered plenty of awards and recognition. Their programs have earned the Cognia Accreditation and Partnership for 21st Century Learning, a Network Battelle for Kids for creating policies, programs and standards that help franchised locations meet high standards in early learning, child development and childcare. These awards and recognitions are well-deserved as Dave, Kara and their team ensures programs, partnerships and community involvement are at the forefront when it comes to the curriculum and continuation of childhood development and parent engagement. 

Opening just five months before the pandemic, and being able to successfully navigate a new business through it, the experience for Dave and Kara has been truly fulfilling. In 2019 when Goddard Gallatin opened, it was one of the largest openings in the country and has been growing steadily since, adding capabilities and programs. “We are working to add an outdoor classroom on our campus. It’s going to be an amazing space for our students to learn and grow,” says Kara. Relationships continue to grow and flourish once a child has graduated from Goddard with Kindergarten Information Night every fall to aid in the smooth transition into elementary school by making sure there are necessary resources for parents by sponsoring several Parent Teacher Organization events. 

Parents truly do love Goddard’s leadership team and community involvement. Dave and Kara live in Sumner County and have readily immersed themselves in the community with their family and love for what they do. Dave and Kara are Partner Members with the Gallatin Chamber. Kara graduated from Leadership Gallatin in 2021 and is a board member for Sumner County CASA. Some of the local charities they regularly support include Sumner County Food Bank, Gallatin Police Department Shop-with-a-Cop, United Way of Sumner County, Sumner County School and The Samaritan Center. Their dedication to supporting Gallatin is a true testament to their love for this city, the personal connections made and how that fits into the Goddard community and framework. The relationships built is what attracts families to Goddard and giving parents peace of mind knowing their children are in the hands of those they know and trust is paramount to the overall success and mission of Goddard!