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Sole Public/private Preschool In Lackawanna County Expanding In Scranton

May 23, 2018 GMT

SCRANTON — Established two years ago, the private, nonprofit Discovery Multiple Intelligences Preschool in East Mountain is expanding.

Scranton’s only public-private Montessori preschool and kindergarten, Discovery MI Preschool plans to buy the Irish Cultural Society building, 1301 Beech St., from where the preschool operates, said Discovery’s board president, Stacy Nivert.

The school will convert the existing gym into a third classroom and build an addition for a new gym, school events and an after-school care program in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year, she said.

“It’s a significant project,” Nivert said. “We hope to start demolition and construction on June 15. It’s got to be done by the end of August.”

Discovery’s first preschool classroom opened in September 2016, the result of parents coming together when the state forced the Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligence Charter School to close its preschool.

Discovery offers a Montessori curriculum using a multiple intelligence theory, similar to what was offered at the Gardner charter school. The state forced the charter school’s pre-kindergarten program to close because state law prohibits charter schools from operating pre-K programs.

A second preschool classroom opened in January 2017, followed later by a kindergarten one.

The preschool accommodates 40 preschool and kindergarten students and has 15 children on a waiting list.

A third classroom will accommodate 20 additional children, giving the 15 wait-listed students spots.

“The school has seen phenomenal growth since we’ve opened,” Nivert said.

In keeping with the school’s mission, at least 10 of the new spots in the classroom will be for children funded through Pre-K Counts, Head Start and pre-K tax scholarships administered through United Way and the Child Care Works Subsidized Child Care Program and managed by Child Care Information Services (CCIS).

“There is substantial research to show the human and economic benefits of early learning, and we are thrilled to be able to expand our programs to accommodate up to 60 students,” Nivert said. “Despite recent expansion in the sector, there is still a critical shortage of early childhood education within the Scranton area.”

Discovery is receiving a $70,000 grant from the city for the building purchase and expansion project.

On May 14, council introduced a resolution from Mayor Bill Court-right for the city to give a $70,000 “loan-to-grant” to Discovery for the expansion project. The loan, coming from the city Office of Economic and Community Development’s Business and Industry Loan/Grant Program, converts to a grant if the school creates two full-time equivalent jobs for low-to-moderate income people within six months. Council unanimously adopted the resolution Monday night.

“I’d like to congratulate the owners of the Discovery Preschool for being part of our city,” Councilman Wayne Evans said. “I’m very happy that this grant is going forward so they can continue to expand their great work.”

The preschool also recently received a $9,000 grant from the Scranton Area Community Foundation and a $4,000 grant from the PNC Foundation.

“These grants are valuable support for our expansion,” Nivert said.

The Scranton Area Community Foundation is a public charity whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for Lackawanna County residents through organized philanthropy. It acts as a grant-maker, catalyst, convener and steward.

“We’re proud to be able to grant funds in support of the growth and expansion of Discovery MI Preschool,” said Laura Duccheschi, president and CEO of the Scranton Area Community Foundation. “Through our many generous donors, it is a privilege to help support the school’s strong commitment to early childhood education in Scranton and their vision for the future in Lackawanna County.”

The PNC Foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development.

“Extensive research indicates that the return on investment in high-quality early education and school readiness initiatives are significant and long-lasting,” said Pete Danchak, PNC regional president for Northeastern Pennsylvania. “They positively impact our children, our society and the health of our economy.”

The use of the Irish Cultural Society building as a school brings it back to its previous purpose, society President Jack McIntyre said.

“The Irish Cultural Society will live on but does not need a dedicated building to continue,” McIntyre said. “The building was once the John Bartram elementary school and we are pleased to see it come full circle and become a school again.”

For more information, visit www.mydiscoverypre school.org.

Contact the writer:

jlockwood@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5185;

@jlockwoodTT on Twitter