The doors of 8701 Germantown Ave. have been closed to Chestnut Hill residents since the Border’s bookstore went out of business. Two and a half years later they opened again as Children of America (COA) held the grand opening on Saturday.
With full operations beginning Monday June 18, COA staff were on hand to give prospective parents and their children a tour of the newly renovated 9,000 sq. ft. building. The building’s size makes it the largest school operated by Children of America, and is something COA president and founder Thad Pryor wants to use to expand its education.
Children of America could become a charter school
“This is going to be our flagship school,” said Pryor. “We’re in the process of getting accreditation to become a full fledged charter school up to 5th grade. Once we get that all we need is eight students enrolled to start a 1st grade in the fall “
Children of America is even incorporating the structure of the building into its education. While the windows remain blacked out from the outside, inside the classrooms have been arranged so visual and creative activities are setup by the window. Ben Carson, Assistant Director of COA in North Whales, helped set up the opening and contends this offers the children perspective.
“We’ve set up these activities by the window to try and bring some of the outside inside, and so the children have a chance to connect what they’re learning in the class room to what they see going on in the world around them,” said Carson.
Though the children have a good view of their surroundings, the property itself doesn’t provide much room for outside activities. Therefore the basement has been transformed into an underground playground on a bed of astro-turf. Along with that, every room is equipped with cameras that allow the children’s parents and loved ones to watch them online as they play.
Crown jewel of Germantown Avenue
Sitting on prime real estate along Germantown Ave, the new center is in the heart of Chestnut Hill’s commercial corridor.
Enzo Mandarano who runs Cosimo’s Pizza right next to Chestnut Hill Sports Inc. thinks the childcare center’s opening will be good for business.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to bring over 200 children and their parents to the area. That is something all the businesses here can benefit from, and I don’t think it’ll cause any more traffic issues” said Mandarano.
George Chido operates Chestnut Hill Sports Inc. across the street from the center is concerned about traffic congestion on the Avenue.
“With all the parents picking up and dropping off their kids, I think it’s going to cause a traffic jam,” Chido said “and after two and half years it’s good to see somebody occupy the building, but everyone that comes in here tells me how much they miss the Borders. It was such a staple in our community.”
The plan for pick-up and drop-off
Children of America has a 14 car parking-lot behind the facility designated for pick up and drop off, and Kylee Kline, COA Curriculum Development Specialist, believes this will be enough to accommodate the traffic.
“The parking lot will be more than sufficient for pick up and drop off, and it is just for parents,” said Kline “I know it’s been a concern in the local community, but even at our busiest centers where we have over 200 kids and far less parking there is never more than eight cars in the lot.”
In an effort to make the smooth the flow of pick up and drop off traffic, Kline says they have plans to make the parking lot a right turn only exit.