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Carden of Tuscon aces the test with Padgett

Bette Jeppson’s business-ownership story began at home in 1973, when the oldest of her three children was ready to begin education, leading her to open her first Carden School in Colorado. After serving five years as director of the school, Mrs. Jeppson’s story moved to Tucson, Arizona. “People kept asking me when we would open a school on this side of town,” she said. “So, we did.” 

Mrs. Bette Jeppson, founder of Carden of Tucson, stands in front of the Carden sign

Carden of Tucson opened in 1980, teaching approximately 40 students in rented facilities. “When we first started, we were a private school, and it was difficult to keep all the finances going,” Mrs. Jeppson said. “We had to collect tuition, and I was never one for turning down children when their parents couldn’t pay. In 2000, we became a charter school, and then we just needed to keep our enrollment up.”

Today, 42 years after opening, the school serves over 130 students from kindergarten to 8th grade. As an alum of the school, Katy Martinez now works with Mrs. Jeppson as the Office Manager for the school, helping manage the business side of the school along with teaching several classes.  

“We’re a very small facility, so many of us wear a lot of hats,” Katy said. “I teach 6th grade and 8th grade math, and then I come back into the office and take care of behind-the-scenes stuff like our HR, QuickBooks, and assisting teachers and administration with things they may need.” 

As the Office Manager, Katy works closely with Carden’s accounting partners, Linda Parent and Michale Haubert of Padgett Tucson. “Linda and Michale have been really good at teaching us how to do things. They oversee what I’m doing and help show me what to do. They’ve taught me a lot!” 

Although Padgett Tucson has become a valuable partner for Carden, unfortunate circumstances prompted the school to reach out to Linda originally. 

“We had a business manager who embezzled funds back in 2010,” Katy said. “When we were going through that process, one of our board members was familiar with the original accounting firm where Linda worked. They helped with an audit of our books. After Linda left that firm, we contacted her again and followed her to Michale and Padgett Tucson.”

Katy Martinez and Bette Jeppson take a selfie together in a Carden Tucson classroom

The embezzlement was a nightmare at the time, but Mrs. Jeppson believes that it ultimately strengthened their business. “We found people like Linda to help us with the finances and get straightened out and on a better path moving forward,” she said. “That was the good thing that came out of the embezzlement—we learned a lot.” 

Now, having worked with Linda and Padgett Tucson for almost a decade, the Carden School is acing their yearly audits. 

“Our account is so intricate with it being a school, and it’s so different from a typical business,” Katy explained. “When I started 15 years ago, I knew absolutely nothing except answering the phone and filing a few papers here and there. Now, I learn something new every year. We have to do a yearly school audit, and I really appreciate that Linda and Michale are willing to show us the answers and guide us. They touch base regularly and are always willing to take our calls. Their communication is key.”

Although Mrs. Jeppson is retiring as director, she’s confident that she’s leaving the business in good hands. “It’s been very valuable to have Katy and Linda. I’m just learning to step aside and let the young ones take over! We do really appreciate Linda and her office and all the support they have given us through the years. To other business owners, I’d say find your support system and keep them!” 

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