SCRANTON — “Would you like a spicy hot dog?” 3-year-old Vanessa Therkorn asked her mother from behind the mini market counter in one of the classrooms at Discovery MI Preschool.
She then proceeded to “sell” the various toy food items in the set – a cup of tea, salad, an ice cream cone.
Enamored with the various toys and learning materials at her new preschool, Vanessa continued to entertain herself while her mother talked to the other adults.
Amanda Therkorn said as her daughter approached preschool age, she began looking into the pre-kindergarten educational options in the area for a program that would challenge Vanessa to grow and learn, rather than a program that serves as a “glorified daycare.” But the Clarks Summit resident didn’t find exactly what she was seeking.
That is, until the Discovery MI Preschool came along.
As both a parent and executive board member, Therkorn said the brand new Montessori school fits the description of what she was looking for, especially in the ways it provides individual and personalized attention for each child.
“What I want is for her to be somewhere where she’s being social, but she’s also being pushed,” she said. “In a Montessori education, if you know that (the material the class is working on at a given time), they say, ‘Great, you know that, keep going.’ In a public school education, when you’re done, they say, ‘Sit quietly and wait for the rest of the group to be finished.’”
Regina Krieger, of Peckville, educational director, said another advantage the school has to offer is the ways in which it prepares the children for kindergarten.
“It prepares them socially, mentally, physically, and especially with the rigorous standards that Pennsylvania has now put on the teachers and public schools,” she said.
Located in the East Mountain section of Scranton, the school offers both full- and half-day programs, five days a week for 10 months out of the year. It follows regular public school calendars, holidays and closings. It is licensed both with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Montessori . All of its teachers are certified by the state as well.
Therkorn stressed the board wishes to make the preschool affordable to all, and those wishing to learn about payment or assistance options should contact the school through its Facebook page or website, mydiscoverypreschool.org. According to its website, the preschool will participate in the Child Care Subsidy Program, EITC Preschool Scholarship program and the Pre-K Counts program.
The school’s program is based on two things: the philosophy on the multiple intelligences theory of Dr. Howard Gardner and Montessori materials and resources. More information about both can be found on the school’s website.
According to both Therkorn and Krieger, in the end, it all boils down to the fact that the experience is child-based.
“It’s not just the teacher’s classroom,” said Krieger. “It’s the child’s classroom. …They have opportunities to do something that they want to do, and they are making choices and deciding what they want to do. And they’re happier. They are learning as they do it.”
Therkorn added many of the teachers and board members are also parents.
“We wouldn’t put our kids here if we didn’t think it was going to be an amazing program,” she said.