Of­fi­cials cel­e­brate lit­er­acy cen­ter open­ing

Part­ner­ship and vi­sion cel­e­brated at Gor­don Lit­er­acy Cen­ter grand open­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - Staff Re­port

Of­fi­cials re­cently cel­e­brated the open­ing of the Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter in Coatesville.

COATESVILLE >> Of­fi­cials last week cel­e­brated the open­ing of the Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter that gives students a “chance to suc­ceed through early ed­u­ca­tion and to get a head start.”

The Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter is a preschool cen­ter for Coatesville area chil­dren ages 3 to 5 that en­com­passes 18 new preschool class­rooms. The cen­ter’s 320 students have ac­cess to “high qual­ity” preschool ed­u­ca­tion, in­struc­tional tech­nol­ogy and re­lated ser­vices and sup­ports to pro­mote school readi­ness, school of­fi­cials said.

State Rep. Harry Lewis Jr., R-74, of Caln, a Coatesville Area High School grad­u­ate and a 40-year ed­u­ca­tor in the Coatesville Area School Dis­trict, spoke at the ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony on Sept. 21.

“It’s the only one of its kind (in the state),” said Lewis, who is run­ning for re-elec­tion this Novem­ber against Down­ing­town Mayor Josh Maxwell, a Demo­crat. “Coatesville has a proud tra­di­tion, and it’s time to re­visit that tra­di­tion. I’m proud of the part­ner­ship that made this hap­pen. I want this to make the com­mon­wealth and the county proud of Coatesville’s achieve­ment.”

The cen­ter at 351 Kersey Street has a his­tory of serv­ing in ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses.

“This build­ing has been in­volved in so many lev­els of ed­uca-

tion. It was an ele­men­tary school, a ju­nior high school, an al­ter­na­tive school, a col­lege cam­pus,” Lewis said. “I re­mem­ber when this site was for driver’s ed­u­ca­tion and the state po­lice driver’s tests. It’s had good days and bad days, and look at how we have re­vived it to­day.”

The cen­ter is a part­ner­ship between the Chester County In­ter­me­di­ate Unit (CCIU), the Coatesville Area School Dis­trict and the United Way of Chester County. The school’s 18 class­rooms in­clude nine “Head Start” class­rooms, four preschool spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion class­rooms, four Coatesville Area School Dis­trict class­rooms and United Way’s Unit­ing Neigh­bors Im­pact­ing Fam­i­lies and Youth class­room. It’s free to students. The Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter is a pub­lic and pri­vate part­ner­ship that re­ceives fed­eral and state grants to fund and op­er­ate Head Start and Preschool Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to the CCIU. The school dis­trict and CCIU are con­tribut­ing ad­di­tional funds to op­er­ate class­rooms for chil­dren that are not cov­ered through the avail­able grants. The gov­ern­ing bod­ies that over­see the preschool ser­vices are sup­port­ive of this blended fund­ing model.

“The Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter is proof of the good work that we can ac­com­plish through pub­lic and pri­vate part­ner­ships,” said Joseph O’Brien, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the CCIU. “This project has united neigh­bors and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions to­gether to have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the chil­dren and fam­i­lies in our Coatesville com­mu­nity. This unity is ev­i­dent in the many dis­tin­guished guests and il­lus­tri­ous speak­ers who are here to­day.”

Two re­sound­ing themes by the ad­di­tional speak­ers in­volved the unique part­ner­ship between the CCIU, the school dis­trict and the United Way that brought this idea to fruition and the im­por­tance that qual­ity childhood ed­u­ca­tion brings to future suc­cess in school and in life.

Coatesville Area School Dis­trict Su­per­in­ten­dent Cathy Taschner called early lit­er­acy the foun­da­tion of a stu­dent’s future suc­cess. She said the Coatesville area school board’s “com­mit­ment was un­wa­ver­ing.” The ad­di­tion of the preschool class­rooms is part of the dis­trict’s “Lit­er­acy Eq­uity Ini­tia­tive.”

“The Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter is proof what can hap­pen when we work to­gether,” Taschner said.

The Septem­ber open­ing of the Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter co­in­cided with the Ready to Read pro­gram for kin­der­gart­ners, which is fun­da­men­tal to the school dis­trict’s “on-grade by third grade” read­ing ef­forts.

CCIU board Pres­i­dent Bon­nie J. Wolff echoed that it “takes an en­tire com­mu­nity to work to­gether in or­der for chil­dren to get the ed­u­ca­tion they de­serve.” She called it a “true part­ner­ship of pub­lic and pri­vate en­ti­ties.”

State Sen. Andrew Din­ni­man, D-19, of West White­land, said the cer­e­mony cel­e­brated “ev­ery child hav­ing a chance to suc­ceed through early ed­u­ca­tion” and “to get a head start.” Din­ni­man is run­ning for re-elec­tion this year against Avondale Repub­li­can Jack Lon­don.

A rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony last Wed­nes­day of­fi­cially cel­e­brated the lit­er­acy cen­ter that opened in Septem­ber. Tours of the build­ing fol­lowed.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter cel­e­brates its grand open­ing in Coatesville with a rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony on Sept. 21.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Vic­to­ria Miller, left, is one of the new Coatesville Area School Dis­trict preschool teach­ers. She par­tic­i­pates in the Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter grand open­ing cel­e­bra­tion on Sept. 21, along with a Head Start stu­dent. Head Start students per­formed the ABC song at the Gor­don Early Lit­er­acy Cen­ter grand open­ing cer­e­mony.

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