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Ted & Jill, Owners of ECEC
Providing Direction and the Confidence to Help Entrepreneurs Grow

Early Childhood Educational Center (ECEC), Ted and Jill O'Leske

Title / Role: Founders/Owners
Location: Oak Creek, Wisconsin
Formed in: 1996
What do you do?

The Early Childhood Educational Center (ECEC) is a small-scale center founded on custom-designed programs consisting of activities and projects geared toward each child’s ability. We offer a higher standard of preschool education committed to providing quality child care to the communities of southeastern Wisconsin. Specializing in pre-K, 3K, and 4K education, Custom Summer Camp programs, and Before and After School programs, our programs encourage socialization, communication, and academic skills for the primary school years.

What inspired you to start your business?

We have a passion for helping children learn and make connections through experiences.

What's special about your business?


Child's hand holding dirt in the shape of a heart

We hope we are different in the way that we approach working with children and families. We serve as caregivers, educators, and mentors who care about how children and parents feel. We aspire to provide a safe and professional learning environment that is respectful and non-judgmental, treating families with the grace and understanding needed to learn together and work together as partners in raising our children. Despite recent trends, we’ve always been different since day one because of our education philosophy, our garden, and our mission for going above and beyond just child care.

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner?

Owning our own business gives us the freedom to try new things and learn from our challenges. We are able to be creative implementing big ideas and coming up with activities that are unique and engaging for young children. It is rewarding to be able to provide an environment that is safe and educational; a place where children are nurtured to grow and thrive academically and through social-emotional learning and wellness. We believe this type of approach is conducive to developing a strong foundation for success in school and in life.

One of our biggest challenges to date has been business survival during the COVID-19 pandemic. SCORE has been our compass throughout our business journey, helping us navigate through our most challenging times by giving us a sense of direction with the confidence we need to grow as entrepreneurs.

How SCORE helped.

As small business owners of a daycare and educational center for nearly 25 years, we have utilized SCORE throughout the many “seasons” of owning and operating a small business since the beginning. We have attended numerous SCORE training workshops and worked with several wonderful mentors who have helped us along the way. Our most recent business mentor has helped us understand and identify the “why” we do what we do, and revise our mission statement to align with our passion and values.

What's great about my mentor?

SCORE mentors have been very patient and kind with their guidance and support for identifying best business practices and effective marketing strategies. They have been instrumental in helping us gain traction in what felt like an endless cycle to progress and broaden our business capabilities. We are grateful to our SCORE mentors as a sounding board for sharing ideas and business concepts. 

I also would like to note that I’ve been very pleased with how responsive and accommodating SCORE has been in making their workshops accessible for people like me who are deaf by providing sign language interpreters. I also appreciated the hard copies provided for the PowerPoint slides (from the presentation) which helped make the workshops so much easier to follow and understand. These types of accommodations make deaf professionals like me feel included and respected and give me the ability to fully participate and focus on learning. Thank you SCORE!


Early Childhood Educational Center
My mentors
Headshot of James Injeski
James Injeski

Jim provides consulting and strategic planning to help business owners develop and execute...

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310 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 585
Milwaukee, WI 53203
(414) 297-3942

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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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