A new phase
“We’re outgrowing our current space very rapidly, so the idea of us being able to grow is exciting,” Dana Hunter Yeager, Learning Center founder, educational director and classroom teacher, told the Tribune. “I’m pleased that the success the school has had over the last year and a half has led to the need for a larger space. We look forward to the growth this opportunity will afford us.”
The Learning Center is a project of Creating Landscapes, which got its start as an educational arts and sciences summer program established in 1990 and housed on the campus of Allegheny College. At the present time, Creating Landscapes’ seven learning venues, which also include teacher workshops, collaborative projects with local school districts and a community garden, reach more than 800 members of the greater Meadville community from infants to adults.
Janyce Hyatt, who founded the Creating Landscapes program almost a quarter century ago, agrees wholeheartedly with Heller that this move is an idea whose time has come.
“Aesthetics are the foundation of what we do, so where we are is important,” Hyatt told the Tribune during a recent interview.
“Certainly there are few places that rival the Episcopal church for physical beauty and architectural prowess, so we’ve been really fortunate to be in that environment,” she said. “However, we are getting bigger and bigger, and they’re constrained in terms of the amount of space they can make available to us.”
By the beginning of the coming school year, the Learning Center will need three classrooms — one kindergarten, one first- and second-grade classroom and one third- and fourth-grade classroom.
“It may be that we only ever need three classrooms,” Hyatt explained. “We don’t ever want to be a huge school — we’d like to keep our enrollment at about 50, which would mean no more than 15 in one of our multi-age classrooms. That’s what we’re thinking about in the long term. But right now, if we’re going to continue to evolve and honor our commitment to the students we have, we’re going to need three classrooms. There’s no way we could do that in the church. They just don’t have the space.”
Faced with a dilemma, “we looked and looked and looked and looked,” Hyatt said. “And then one of our board members said, ‘What about East End School?’” With that, the process began.
According to Heller, even more answers to that question are expected to emerge during coming months.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.