Gail Johnson, the Pediatric Nurse Turned CEO Who Founded America’s First Leadership Preschool

Gail Johnson is the founder, president, and CEO of Rainbow Station, an early childhood education center that specializes in bringing out the best in every child. Rainbow Station empowers kids to discover their unique gifts and talents so they can “learn early, live well, and lead.” As the first “leadership preschool” in the United States, Rainbow Station focuses on development beyond academics. At Rainbow Station, children learn 21st century skills such as responsibility, compassion, and teamwork, qualities that will impact their lives in and out of school, and long after graduation. The company’s mission is to partner with parents to transform children’s lives and catapult them to success.

Johnson, a pediatric nurse with 40 years of experience, was part of the faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing when she saw how families struggled when their children had acute or chronic health conditions. One major crisis contributor was the lack of support services for these kids when their parents had to return to work. In response, Johnson created the Get Well Place at Rainbow Station to provide assistance for working parents with mildly or chronically ill children. Here, full-time a pediatric nurse cares for kids so parents can focus at work.

In 1996, Johnson and her team launched The Village, a school-age recreation program where kids can attend “town meetings,” study at the library, and participate in various recreational activities. At The Village, children are free to choose age-appropriate activities in a safe and stimulating environment staffed by professional teachers.

In 2010, Rainbow Station became the world’s first leadership preschool, adopting the initiatives outlined in Sean Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. Rainbow Station’s The Leader in Me program nurtures each child as a leader and seeks to develop the highest level of leadership and confidence in students.

“I think The Leader in Me is the clear gold standard for teaching these skills,” says Johnson. “It’s not only the best academically, but it also has the most entertaining lesson plans for the students, who will really enjoy doing this.”

For the past 25 years, Rainbow Station has consistently defined itself as a leader in early childhood education and school-age recreation.


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