Belinda Bernardo – Canadian Small Business Woman of the Month of March 2013


Belinda Bernardo

Sixteen years ago, Star Academy principal, Belinda Bernardo, then a mother of three young children (aged 4, 6, 7), left a promising career, climbing the ladder with the public school board, to pursue her dream of founding her own school where every child could love learning. Today, while Belinda’s children are on to Post-Secondary educational journeys, Star Academy continues to provide quality education to the South Mississauga and Etobicoke communities.

Throughout her own youth, growing up, then teaching in the Toronto District School Board, Belinda was never comfortable with large classes and often felt invisible. As an administrator, she became frustrated with the bureaucracy and saw quickly that she wasn’t going to be able to make philosophical changes; Belinda understood that even with the best teachers, students were still not treated as individuals because of the constraints of the large government system.

Belinda knew that she wanted to create an environment where children could learn to love to learnTM and where every child could receive the personalized education they deserve.  After a slow start with only 3 students, Star Academy has continued to grow, year over year, increasing enrollment and researching new programs to benefit all children. Star Academy still offers academic level curriculum from Kindergarten through Grade Eight in small 10:1 ratio classrooms. All students participate in a daily physical literacy program, have access to integrated technology in a blended learning environment, as well as homework help and tutoring.

Belinda has realized her dream of integrating all aspect of a successful education into her school philosophy: Academic- Global- Physical- Individual- Social/Emotional are all integral parts of Star Academy’s unique program. As a young mother, Belinda was able to bring her children to work with her each day, and they were given the gift of education along with life-lessons, watching their mother run a successful business. Researched, developed and implemented with students and their individual futures in mind, Star Academy and Belinda invite you to come and see a unique elementary school!

What inspires you?
I am inspired daily by the students, parents and teachers that appreciate an atmosphere of mutual respect with opportunities to learn and grow together.
As a small business owner, what achievements make you most proud?
I am proud that I was able to visualize a better learning and working environment, and have been able to realize that dream. Also, while the philosophical side of the business was important, for me, looking at the physical school that we built brick by brick, having to gain different skills along the way and overcome many hurdles gives me immense satisfaction. In fact many days, pulling into the parking lot, I look at it and think “We did that?!” with a sense of pride and awe.
What advice would you give to other aspiring small business owners?
My advice for anyone starting out is: Follow your dream with passion and enthusiasm. Don’t be afraid of the barriers, but rather see them as opportunities to learn new skills. Ensure that you have the undying support of your loved ones, so that when times get rough, and they will, you have a support group that will remind you of why you started your business, and give you a hug – or a kick- when you need it.
What new things can we look forward to from your business in the upcoming year?
In the year (s) ahead, Star Academy will continue to meet both the educational and economic changes with resourcefulness, research and a clear sense of the path we are on. Being able to anticipate the needs of clients, as they change and broaden, ensures that we never rest on our laurels, but instead continually push the boundaries. We are not afraid of change and continually look to better our service offering with an eye to the future.
Follow Star Academy on Twitter or on Facebook or via their Website

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7 thoughts on “Belinda Bernardo – Canadian Small Business Woman of the Month of March 2013

  1. Christine Fulford says:

    You are proud of what you have achieved and rightly so. Congratulations Belinda!

  2. Passion and a commitment to your business’ philosophy is what creates purpose and fuels longevity; Star Academy is proof of this. Belinda is an inspiring educator, passionate about providing an educational environment when students love learning and teachers love teaching.

  3. Jane L says:

    Congratulations Belinda! Great to see that all your passion and accomplishments have been recognized in this way! Those who have worked for and with you have recognized them for some time- nice to see that the world is catching up! Wishing you, and Star Academy continued success!

  4. Pam says:

    I am one of the the lucky ones to have seen what your passion and commitment has achieved with Star Academy. One son graduated with honors from high school and the other is on his way to a very bright future. Thanks Belinda for making your dream a success.

  5. Sheila says:

    Congratulations Belinda! To be able to realize a dream and help others is so inspiring. Your children – both by birth and that your teach are very fortunate to have you in their lives.

  6. Giselle Amann says:

    very impressive Belinda!

  7. […] is currently featured as the Canadian Small Business Woman of the month. She has been featured as Canadian Mompreneur of January 2013 on The, […]

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