SANATOGA PA – Last November (2013), as community volunteer Dee Gallion was being interviewed for a vacancy on the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors, she talked about creating a program that would offer free educational activities to children age 5 and younger from any family within the school district. Now, three months later, school board member Gallion says what is being called the “Falcon’s Nest Learning Co-op” is ready to fly.
Twice-weekly pre-schooler sessions were to have been launched with an orientation meeting this morning (Monday, Feb. 3), but Gallion reported that’s been canceled with the closing of district schools due to poor winter road conditions. Instead, the meeting is now set for Wednesday (Feb. 5) from 9:30-11 a.m. in the community room at the Rolling Hills Apartments, 2120 Buchert Rd.
Any parents of Pottsgrove youngsters not yet in school are welcome to attend … but they should be prepared to be active, Gallion added.
The program will not operate like a drop-off center; that’s not its intent, she noted. Parents must accompany their youngsters in each session. It lacks the funding, the personnel, and the appropriate authorizations to run otherwise.
“It is free of charge, but (parents) must be willing to stay and participate with your child,” Gallion has announced in status updates on Facebook forums and elsewhere. Parents “will be asked to take your turn helping with story time, craft time and group activities.” Falcon’s Nest, she explained, “is a grassroots program, not funded by the school district or any outside sources.”
The curriculum is expected to cover letters, numbers, colors, character development, learning activities and cooperative play. Gallion, fellow organizer Jeni Alexander and other volunteers have received “much-appreciated guidance from our school principals and administrators,” she said, and the Rolling Hills administration – with which Gallion has worked before on other projects – donated space for the start-up.
The vision for Falcon’s Nest is bigger, though. Its founders want to “outgrow the community center and spread into homes, churches and other community spaces throughout the district,” according to Gallion.
There are hundreds of children across the district annually in the ages 2- or 3-to-5 bracket who would be suited for such a program, only a percentage of whom can attend commercially operated pre-school facilities for a fee. Branching out to other locations would make Falcon’s Nest more convenient and easily accessible to those who live in more distant neighborhoods.
That will take work, time and planning, Gallion indicated. For now, she and her colleagues will be happy to get a more limited Falcon’s Nest up and running, if only Mother Nature will cooperate.
District residents who no longer have a pre-schooler at home, or any children for that matter, can be part of Falcon’s Nest success too, Gallion said. The program is looking for mentors, host homes, additional meeting spaces, and donations of school supplies like scissors, glue sticks, and construction paper. Those interested in lending a hand can send an e-mail to Gallion here.