NEWINGTON - The Goddard School just opened the doors of its newest branch at the rear of the Newington Business Park.
It’s the company’s ninth preschool in Connecticut, with the nearest in Farmington, Rocky Hill and Glastonbury.
“In Connecticut it’s still new to the market so it’s a new name for parents,” owner Ron Mavumkal said.
He and his wife, Seema, live in Newington with their two daughters, 16-month-old Aria and 3-year-old Sahana. Mavumkal left the corporate world to pursue a new career and family step.
“We could see the need for early education with our young family when we went on this venture a year and a half ago,” he explained.
The Mavumkals not only built and opened the new 10,400-square-foot facility. They were also one of the first 10 families to enroll their children in the school, which serves infants as young as six weeks up to 6-year-olds awaiting kindergarten. At full capacity, the school will be staffed by 30 teachers and will serve 144 students.
Goddard’s nationally acclaimed, play-based learning model is known as FLEX, an acronym for Fun Learning EXperience. Constantly evolving curriculum is crafted by a team of early childhood researchers and teachers. The company plans to expand to over 500 locations in 37 states by next year.
“Our model builds a foundation that learning is fun, to prepare kids for the challenges to come as they progress through grade school,” Mavumkal said.
He is working directly with Goddard Systems educational consultant Donna Grover to implement Goddard’s guiding principles and philosophy at the school.
Tuition costs are comparable with other area preschools, according to Mavumkal. That might be the only similarity, however.
“There’s nothing like Goddard in this area,” school director Adrienne Ricciardi said.
Each of the school’s 11 classrooms is designed to transition growing students, with age-appropriate furniture, toys and learning tools. In the fenced-in backyard are two playgrounds - one for toddlers and another for older kids. A “gym” inside becomes a recreation haven during the winter months and bad weather.
Technology is abundant. Parents sign in their children using an iPad in the lobby area, and the school itself is accessible only by a hand scanner. A 70-inch LCD screen in one classroom provides an interactive experience for older kids.
Families receive photos and daily reports of their children’s activities, meal intake and even bathroom use.
Ricciardi is a former administrator at The Goddard School in Brookfield, the first branch in the state. She brings to Newington over 25 years of experience in early childhood education.
“To provide for children in the community and prepare them to join our society someday should be important to all of us and to our future,” she pointed out. “We have some wonderful staff and families here and are looking forward to welcoming more in the New Year. It’s exciting to be a part of this.”
The school will be hosting an open house for interested families later this month.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.