(ELIZABETHTOWN)—Students and their parents are getting their first looks at U-GRO Learning Centres’ new Masonic Village facility, featuring state-of-the-art technology, onsite interaction with “grandfriends” and enhanced learning in a laboratory school environment. Through collaborations with the Masonic Village and Elizabethtown College, U-GRO Masonic Village offers both intergenerational programming and an expanded lab-school learning environment in which Elizabethtown College education students observe and teach.
State-of-the-art educational technology, through the use of Smart Boards and iPads, plus giant walls dedicated to helping children with word, color and shape recognition, and greatly expanded gross motor areas for crawling, running and jumping are a few of the enhanced educational and play features that the new facility includes. Featuring 10 classrooms, a 2,000 square-foot indoor play space and a 13,500 square-foot state-of-the-art outdoor play area, the facility replaces Masonic Village’s existing 7,000 square-foot building, where U-GRO assumed operations in June 2018.
The transition to the new center, located at the Shrine Road entrance to the Masonic Village campus, marks a $3-million investment in the greater Elizabethtown community, which includes classrooms for up to 148 children, including infants, toddlers and preschoolers starting at six weeks of age. A private, full-day kindergarten is also offered, as well as before- and after-school programs and summer camp. Masonic Village is re-purposing the former location into retirement living apartments for residents, while the new center’s location provides more convenient access for Elizabethtown-area families. The center employs about 30 full-time employees plus seasonal college interns.
Weekly interaction with senior residents at the campus is an important asset in the center’s curriculum, through its partnership with Masonic Village.
“Planned interactions among retirement community residents and our students have created wonderful outcomes for all participants, building social and emotional skills for our students and self-esteem and enjoyment for the seniors,” said Leslie Marley, U-GRO Learning Centres Director of Education and Curriculum.
Elizabethtown College’s Department of Education’s Laboratory School Program and U-GRO’s lab school learning environment will offer increased opportunities for college students to observe and teach in U-GRO’s Early Learning classrooms. Rachel Finley-Bowman, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and associate professor of education at Elizabethtown, and Greg Holsinger, president and CEO of U-GRO, co-founded the lab school program in 2014.
“The lab school environment provides clear benefits to its participants through research, teaching collaboration, resource sharing and, most importantly, building capacity as a learning community,” said Finley-Bowman. “It’s an all-around partnership with students, parents, professors and U-GRO.”
“U-GRO’s new building offers state-of-the-art facilities to families of the greater Elizabethtown-area community,” said Greg Holsinger, president and CEO of the family-owned company. “With kindergarten-readiness scores averaging 94.8% across the past five years, our exceptional team of educators and this outstanding facility will help us to provide the best possible start in life for even more children in south-central Pennsylvania.”
Now accepting Fall enrollments with limited availability, U-GRO Learning Centres is the leading early childhood education provider in Central Pennsylvania, offering infant, toddler, preschool and before- and after-school programs at 13 locations for more than 1,750 children daily.