In the fall, Clark is expanding her business to include a day school for kindergarten and first grade. She said in the future, she hopes the day school will “eventually be a school for all ages.”
Jana Lou Callaway also provides music lessons through the Taloa Music Academy at The Umbrella.
Clark has always had a passion for education and helping children.
“I taught first grade for 28 years and it prepared me for what I’m doing now,” she said. “I wanted something for kids and to teach them learning is fun. I wanted something for my children because they’re all educators and I want to leave something behind for them and I wanted to help teachers make a little extra money.”
A lifelong struggle with dyslexia has helped her understand how to meet the learning needs of children of different abilities.
“I tell them, ‘The brain you have is very valuable because you have a brain that works. You just have to learn how to control that brain,’” she said.
Clark said helping others is what she “was born to do” and that God gave her the vision to open The Umbrella.
“This is the best way for me to describe it,” she said. “God gave me a puzzle box full of pieces. He showed me the picture, but the pieces aren’t put together yet. God uses me to put that puzzle together.”
Clark started her business with help from the Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma Women’s Business Center (WBC), “a place where women gain support, encouragement, strength, answers and celebrate success.”
WBC Program Manager Barbara Rackley said Clark was one of the program’s first clients. “Laura is an example,” Rackley said. “I use Laura in every presentation I make.”
The mission of the WBC is “to assist Oklahoma’s enterprising women wanting to explore the opportunities of starting or expanding a business.” Since it began, WBC has helped over 19,000 women pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship. The program provides training workshops, business counseling and networking opportunities to women through one-on-one business counseling.
Rackley told Clark, “The fact that you’re around after 10 years is amazing. You have such a passion for what you do – it’s what got your business going and is what has kept it going. We’re so proud of your accomplishment today.”
Clark was beaming as she accepted flowers from Rackley and told those gathered to celebrate her success, “We’re here to help them (children) figure out what is best for their life. This is just the beginning of what it’s going to be.”