Vivienne McIntyre has big things ahead of her. McIntyre is the brain behind Nifty Nanny, a child care business and app-based babysitting service in Durango.
Each day she arrives at the Smiley Building, where she spends time with school-age children. Together, “Miss Vivienne” and the children play games, create arts and crafts, participate in dance and yoga classes and go on field trips around Durango.
McIntyre’s education philosophy is inspired by her homeschooling experience with her four sisters, where each had their own desk and supplies facing a chalkboard inside a small white shed with a red door.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be a teacher in some aspect,” she said. “Some of my favorite memories growing up are in our house in Evansville, Indiana. It was a huge corner lot with plenty of room for us to run around. We had a schoolhouse in the backyard.”
McIntyre said they also participated in homeschool cooperatives in the area, where they had classes like oil painting and sign language. She started attending public school in middle school. During her junior year of high school, she moved to Durango and attended Grace Preparatory Academy for one semester before transferring to Durango High School to play softball her senior year.
“By that time, it was my fourth high school so I was pretty burnt out with social life and did not want to make any friends,” she said. “I just focused on my athletics and academics.”
Her athletic prowess paid off. The summer after graduating from Durango High School, McIntyre took a softball training camp at Fort Lewis College where she was offered a partial scholarship.
While attending FLC, she began to babysit to earn money. As word of her skills spread, she went from watching one or two children a couple days a week, to eight children, five days a week.
“All I had to do was show up, and bring my cart of crafts and games. Every summer since then, it has just grown and grown and grown,” she said.
With encouragement from parents, McIntyre created a summer camp and named the business Nifty Nanny. Charles Shaw, owner of the Smiley Building, allowed McIntyre to use the space as a central meeting point. She worked with the children on academic activities in the morning and took them to places like parks, museums and the library for fun and educational experiences in the afternoon.
After graduating from FLC in 2014, she worked for Durango School District 9-R while maintaining the business for two years. During that time, she realized her personal beliefs about child care and education did not match that of the public school system. In fall 2016, she decided to not return to teaching, and to instead focus on her business.
“I wanted to see if I could make this happen for myself,” she said.
Her husband, Patrick, helped her set up a classroom at the Smiley Building and she was ready to take the business to the next level. It was a success, and after little more than a year she moved into a larger room with space for 25 children. Her business has continued to expand, and she now has nine part-time employees.
McIntyre would like to have her own school that would be a homeschool cooperative or community enrichment center, where children and parents can engage in educational experiences side by side.
“As I’ve grown and as I’ve had my business, what my school will look like has changed a little bit,” she said. “Parent participation is just really important in kids’ lives. I think parents would feel more welcomed and maybe even more willing to participate.” l