13 Jun 2024
The Story behind Imagination International Preschool
Starting a business Work & Money

The Story behind Imagination International Preschool

International Schools Stockholm:

The Story behind Imagination International Preschool

She never thought she would be the type of person who would work with children. “Don’t get me wrong, I love kids. I love their curiosity, their imagination and their innate innocence. However, I grew up an only child, and aside from the odd babysitting job, I never had much experience with pint-sized people”. But now, six years after her first job as a teacher, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else with the rest of her life. She currently lives in Sweden, speaks two languages, and owns Imagination International Preschool. Here is her story.

Melanie Jamison was born and raised in the United States. Through emails and phone conversations, she fell in love with a Swede back in 2004, and moved here to be closer to him. She ended up being very lucky and made a contact with an International Preschool located in Solna and started working as a teacher to 3-4 year olds.

either she could dive head first into turning her dream and passion into a reality, or she could succumb to the hand she was dealt and join the thousands currently seeking unemployment benefits in the declining job market

After working for this school for almost five years, she had familiarized herself with the holes within the Swedish school system. She said “it seemed that the choices for English speaking schools were limited, the need was greater than the supply, and the quality of the options was lacking”.

In 2009 she started researching the requirements for starting-up a school of her own. She had no Swedish education. Her degrees from the States did not qualify her for work in Sweden. She had a decision to make: either she could dive head first into turning her dream and passion into a reality, or she could succumb to the hand she was dealt and join the thousands currently seeking unemployment benefits in the declining job market. She was raised with the view that anything worth having was worth the risk. So she started Imagination International Preschool in the Fall of 2009.

Along the road to getting the Preschool on its feet, Melanie met numerous challenges and obstacles. First, she had to raise the money for the endeavor, but every loan she applied for was rejected. “You need approval from all the governing organizations, but none of them will approve a new business without consent from the others. You need to get a kommun to make time for you long enough to hear your ideas before you get your license. You need to be taken seriously as a business owner, without any prior experience. You need a property to teach children in, in an environment where none are available. You need trained teachers on staff, without any income being generated to pay them. Most importantly, you need to be seen as competent without being able to fluently communicate with the people in charge”.

Every complication only made it more worthwhile when we finally opened our doors on October 13th, 2009!

The only requirement for calling yourself an International Preschool is your adherence to teaching the English language. Melanie wanted more than that. ‘To me, international education means teaching culture, history, geography, and creating an atmosphere that enhances their experience. You need all five senses involved in your learning process, including sound, sight, and touch. I knew in my school, each area of each room would have a different theme, so that the children would feel as though they were actually in a different environment. To date, we have an island, a pirate ship, a racing car area, a jungle, and an underwater setting, and we are continuously adding on”.

Eventually she got the permits and the license, but now, the hard part started. She wondered, how do you convince parents to sign their child up in a brand new school and leave them with people that had no reputation as caregivers? Although they had a few applications, and even fewer walk-thru visits, they didn’t get any confirmed registrations. Discouraged, the teachers and her traveled home one night at the end of October. They were sitting on the subway, discussing the educational differences between the US and Sweden, and a gentleman sitting across the aisle overheard them. Being American himself, he joined the debate and within ten minutes they learned he had two sons. One was enrolled at a primary school in Danderyd, and the other was nearly two and had no Preschool placement. This became the first family to sign with Imagination International, and it was this family’s word-of-mouth advertisement that helped them to find other students.

Since then, Imagination International has moved into a permanent property, filled the school, and now have a waiting list so extensive they are currently in the process of expansion. Melanie said “my dream started out to open a school that would cultivate and nurture the innocence of the child’s imagination. To allow them the opportunity to do their job as kids; to play, to ask questions, to enjoy their first experience into a lifelong love of learning. Now, it has changed into being a benchmark for International education, becoming so exceptional that all the other schools need to increase their standards in order to compete. We have a community that extends far beyond the students in our care, and we endeavour to introduce international families to the opportunities that exist for them in a foreign country. Through the efforts and tenacity of everyone involved, the staff, the families and the governing organizations, I think any dream could become reality. Our school motto is, “The only limits you have are the boundaries of your imagination”, and we live by that!”

For more information go to http://www.imaginationinternational.se/

What do you think? Leave your feedback below.


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  • Aaron Sigaroody 11 Aug 2011

    I came across your story not once, but twice while browsing at different times and consider it some sort of good omen! If you ever have a vacancy for a dedicated primary school teacher or even a pre-school one, keep me in mind as I’m willin to work where ever it takes me in Sweden. My problem is I speak only English and very little swedish and find it hard to get a job here. I did sub though at the Futura International for just 5 months, and have the same interest and love that you have working with children. A natural born teacher with vast experience of my own I find this so fulfilling and just love the job! Kudos to you dear, wishing you the very best in life, God bless!

    Warm wishes,


    • Laicee 28 Aug 2011

      Extremely helpful article, please write more. I think it was really cool to hear that this international school was opened by an individual who wanted to do something for the kids, rather then a company opening an international school to bring in a lot of cash. Good work!

  • Teri 2 Oct 2012

    Wow, this is so inspiring! It sounds like my dream workplace too! I don’t like what’s offered in the Public schools for Early Childhood in the USA and most of those programs are being cut from budgets. I too believe in using all modalities for teaching and learning.

    While doing a Google search on International Schools and Early Childhood, I just happened to stumble upon this article. I wish we had a place such as your school here in the USA, as it would utilize my background (B.A., theater, M.S., Childhood Education, Early Childhood Basic Core Certificate, Assistant Speech Language Pathologist certificate, and Prague TEFL Worldwide certificate) and what I believe.

    Thanks for pursuing your dream and not giving up! We need to share this vision and inspire others as you have. 🙂

  • Chukwuemeka Caleb 6 Sep 2019

    What än amazing story of a humble beggining. Keep the good works going

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