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Parents have plans for empty elementary school

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FALLS TOWNSHIP, WYOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A local school could have a new life. Tunkhannock School District’s Mill City Elementary School has sat empty for one year. Mothers in the district want to purchase it to bring a new purpose for students.

High grass surrounds parts of the playground at the former Mill City Elementary School in Falls Township. The school building has sat empty since the district closed it and Evans Falls Elementary School last year due to consolidation.

“I don’t want to see it vacant and I strongly want to help the kids in the community,” Karen Thomas, secretary of the executive board for Gold Star Learning Academy said.

Thomas is among a dozen moms in the Tunkhannock School District who are spearheading the Gold Star Learning Academy. 

“To offer before school, preschool, pre-K counts and after-school learning programs in and around our community,” Tara Walsh, Gold Star Learning Academy School Director said.

Walsh, a Scranton High School teacher who lives near Mill City, says children will be exposed to S (science) T (technology) E (engineering ) M (math) education, music, arts and more. Moms of the district have been finalizing the programs for more than a year to bring something new for all children.

“This is a need that our community has, and we have a golden opportunity here to capitalize on it and be able to offer a much-needed service in our district,” Walsh said.

To get the program off the ground, organizers are looking for donations and working with businesses in Pennsylvania to get the program here.

“We’re looking to raise $500,000 through a combination of fundraising efforts,” Thomas said.

Thomas and the other moms have been working with the Pennsylvania Department of Economic Development to provide a tax write-off for businesses that support the academy. Money raised from the community will help purchase the building from the district. The bidding process will start in August plus get the program running by 2020.

“Our efforts are starting to pay off, and we are seeing a lot of interest in our program, and we are just excited to get it very started,” Walsh said. 

“We are very hopeful. Everyone on the board has been very supportive, especially the superintendent,” Thomas said.

If you would like to help the academy’s mission, organizers are holding a fundraising event this Sunday at Shadowbrook Inn and Resort in Tunkhannock.

Mission Statement

The mission of Gold Star Learning Academy is for our students to acquire the essential foundation for success and develop socially, physically, cognitively and emotionally.

Vision Statement

Our vision at Gold Star Learning Academy is to empower students to acquire, demonstrate, articulate and value knowledge. Our students will gain the skills needed to support themselves as lifelong learners and to participate and contribute globally as they practice the core values of our Academy: respect, tolerance, inclusion, and excellence.

Our Programs

Our Gold Star Curriculum provides a clear pathway to school readiness and preparedness. It incorporates developmentally appropriate methods that meet the learning needs of each child in our well-equipped classrooms and playgrounds. Programs for students requiring remediation in reading and math or other special education services are available to students who qualify. These programs and many more are housed in a home-like environment paired with nurturing staff.

Complimentary Meals and Snack

Gold Star Learning Academy ensures that students have adequate time to eat and enjoy their meals. We provide healthy and nutritious meals to our students that are yummy and delicious. Our academy wants to teach students to make healthy choices in order to improve growth and development. Our well-balanced menus are designed by licensed nutritionists with consideration of student and parent input about items they would like to see served in the meals. Table mannerisms will be implemented during mealtime in order for students to become more independent and helpful individuals.

World Language and Literacy will be incorporated into our learning programs at every age and level. Our students will have the chance to become culturally diverse and knowledgeable of the world around them. Our students will be exposed to languages that will be incorporated throughout the day in songs and games to train the ears and the brains to additional language learning.

Estrella Fugaz supports our students in providing core instructions that share a common understanding of the foundation of literacy that will prepare them for reading, writing, speaking and listening, and vocabulary used in Spanish. Our students will become more cultured and linguistically responsive in Spanish within a multi-tiered system of support.

Language arts will be paired with every subject because students must learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a variety of content areas in order to become critical thinkers. Our curriculum aims to prepare students for life outside the classroom. Our student’s critical-thinking skills and the ability to closely and attentively read texts in a way that will help them understand and enjoy age-appropriate literature.

Our Twilights program is offered to one and two- year- olds when they are mobile and ready for a classroom experience. In small primary care groups, our Responsive Teachers nurture and guide toddlers as they develop an awareness of self and others. Continuity of care is an essential ingredient in creating a safe and secure learning environment for each child during their Twilight year.

Our Little Dippers program is for two and three -year- olds to support the physical, cognitive and the social/emotional development of each child. Our Montessori program is inspired by the principles developed over a century ago by Dr. Maria Montessori. A child enters into a warm and nurturing environment where every student is viewed as an individual that is unique in every way. Focus on developing a natural curiosity for learning and include a balance of teacher directed and child-directed activities.

Our Starburst Reading enrichment program is a critical first step in transitioning our children to an essential foundation in literacy, that will help them succeed in their future learning. Our Lattice specialized trained teachers will create a learning plan for our preschoolers to increase reading proficiency, comprehension skills, and identify the reading characteristics of a story.

Reading and writing is learned as an integral part of the engineering studies with a carefully chosen list of children’s fiction and nonfiction literature related to the project themes. Our students will learn to write by drawing and writing their ideas. Students receive daily phonics instruction through the use of interactive activities on the classroom Smart Board.

Our Big Dippers program is when our four and five-year-old students are maturing with energy, drive, and a growing confidence for Kindergarten readiness. The Big Dippers Program is an accelerated program with a strong focus in S.T.R.E.A.M.S. (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, Math, and Social Studies). Through consistent exploration and meaningful interaction with their teacher, children will build a deeper understanding of their world and how it exists through hands-on projects and lessons.

This experience will lay a strong foundation for your child’s future academic years as he or she transitions into a public or private school. Service learning and social studies projects will provide your child with an understanding of his or her community and the difference they can make. This time will equip your child for subsequent educational experiences by helping him or her learn to follow classroom rules, work with other children, and practice social skills.

Big Dippers Program FEATURES

S.T.R.E.A.M.S. Focused Curriculum
Individualized Teacher Attention
Small Class Size
Inquiry and Project-Based Instruction
Smart Board Interactive Lessons
Our S.T.A.R. Zone Program

Our S.T.A.R. Zone before and after school program enables working parents to know that their child is safe and supported in the hours leading up to, and following their school day. Our students will be able to receive academic support, engage in intramural sports, and participate in the many clubs offered by the academy. We also give our students the opportunity to create a club/sport not currently offered by the academy.

Our S.T.A.R. Zone after-school program helps young learners apply their knowledge and skills to real-world situations by establishing a hands-on holistic approach to learning. The goal is to make learning a fun and exciting experience for our students. Incorporating S.T.R.E.A.M.S. into our after-school program will meet the individual interests of each student, which will then motivate and entice our students to come to the academy ready to learn. Kids get empowered to figure things out for themselves and have confidence as they interact with the world. Our S.T.A.R. Zone program will provide our students with the best opportunities for growth and success.
Convenient hours 7 am to 7 pm

When schools are closed for teacher work days, snow days, or for holidays, Gold Star Learning Academy expands to accommodate the school-age child who is looking to spend the day with friends doing things they enjoy. As a parent of an active school-aged student, you can be confident that your child is going to be safe and well supervised and also challenged, cared for, and connected to the staff and their friends.

Gold Star Learning Academy values hard-working parents and we understand the critical hours before and after schools are crucial to our student’s development. With this in mind, our longer than normal hours are from 7 am to 7 pm. but don’t worry, our students will enjoy every second of it!
There’s More!

Homework Help: whether it’s a science project, spelling test, or book report, our teachers are here to support your child in completing their work—which frees up time in the evenings for you to be together as a family. Daily Fitness & Healthy Meals: we help children develop healthy bodies and encourage proper nutrition through daily physical activity, healthy snacking and fresh, hot meals.

Mealtime Matters
Children are served breakfast, midday snack, and dinner. Breakfast is served before school. They receive a midday snack after school before running off to the playground to let off steam after a long day of learning. Dinner is served soon after homework time is over.

Complimentary transportation to and from school

Tunkhannock area school district added a bus stop at our academy just for you! Bus services are included to and from our schools within the Tunkhannock School District. We work with schools to provide a seamless transition from school to our program in order to make our hardworking parent’s lives a little easier.

Students as Teachers

Students as teachers offer peer-on-peer teaching to all students in the academy. The opportunity to teach your peers sends a powerful message. It shows that our students have knowledge worth sharing, a teacher’s trust, and they have an opportunity to support their peers learning. Student teachers are role model students for our academy.

When other students see their peers working hard on their studies, it encourages other students to want to learn and do well in school, too. Our student teachers must be between the ages of 14 years old to 17 years old. We strongly encourage all our teens to participate in this program in order to build confidence, leadership, and empathy for themselves and the students around them.

Gold Star Learning Academy’s commitment to student success includes partnering with our local school district to prepare our students with the tools needed for success.

Our students will work with professional instructors to create lesson plans grounded in our curriculum.

Our students will also have the opportunity to work on administrative, advertising, social media, correspondence, and STREAMS settings. Our goal is to enhance their interest while discovering new ones.

Our academy, in conjunction with our local school district, will provide the academic support and training in the non-cognitive skills they need to succeed. Students will be able to accumulate community service hours needed to graduate high school. Once they accumulate 200 hours they will qualify to earn monetary compensation.

As students continue in our program, our focus shifts to teaching habits and attitudes that are critical for high school and providing support and intervention when challenges arise.


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