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Sunrise Learning Center opens with precautions

Sunrise Learning Center (SLC) is open for in-person education for students from kindergarten through third grade.

With small classes, plexiglass dividers, hand sanitizer in each room, as well as social distancing and mask wearing, SLC opened for students August 31.

Located in the parish house of John’s Memorial Episcopal Church at 400 High Street, this innovative, holistic educational program founded by Dr. Deborah Carrington and Dr. Hood Frazier, began in 2015 for parents who wanted something different, a non-denominational, developmentally appropriate progressive educational program for their children. Supplemented with specialty classes in math, music, gardening, art, clay crafts, math and children’s yoga, the curriculum is implemented by a highly-educated, experienced instructional faculty that integrates a project-based learning environment that allows for plenty of outside time and play.

Available Monday through Thursday, the school also takes children outside regardless of the weather for opportunities to engage in imaginative play at Grove Street Park, take nature walks around the community and Longwood’s campus, and participate in nature study and gardening. In addition, Sayler’s Creek Construction, LLC has gifted the school an outside pavilion, so music and other classes can take place outside regardless of the weather. Sunrise believes that there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, and requires all students to bring appropriate clothing to school.

To prepare for the pandemic and to keep children and teachers safe, SLC has received donated masks by Terry Towler with Dillwyn Pharmacy, face shields by YakAttack in Farmville, rent assistance from John’s Memorial Episcopal Church, and has purchased hand-sanitizer from Three Crosses Distilling Co., a local company in Powhatan County. Also, a local craftsman, Hank Hosmer, has custom designed plexiglass dividers for all of our desks and tables, and many parents have contributed educational supplies, materials and made generous monetary contributions to help launch this year’s schooling.

Our teachers, Natalie Kelly-Kimmel, with a special education and elementary education degree, and more than 20 years of teaching experience as a lead teacher in Veedersburg, Indiana, will be teaching kindergarten and yoga classes. Suzanne Towler, with more than nine years of teaching experience, a Bachelor of Science in liberal studies/ PK-6 and an Master of Science in math education, has also worked as a math specialist and mentor, teacher/facilitator for Longwood University, will be teaching third grade and consulting with each teacher to design the math curriculum.

Dr. Carrington and Lindsey Nelson will be co-teaching the combined first- and second-grade class. Dr. Carrington has more than 30 years of teaching experience as a classroom teacher, a trained Waldorf teacher and was a professor of elementary education at Longwood University and coordinator of the elementary education program at James Madison University. As co-director of the program, she has been teaching since its inception in 2015. Nelson has been the Pre-K teacher since 2016 and is currently enrolled in the Old Dominion University elementary education program. She has also been the summer coordinator for SLC’s Summer Enrichment Program. Hood Frazier, co-director of SLC, taught in an innovative high school in Albemarle County and has more than 30 years of teaching at the secondary, community college, and higher education levels. He was a professor of english education at Longwood University and a professor of middle and secondary education at James Madison University. Currently, he is a JMU professor in residence and was a recent member of the Prince Edward County School Board. He is an administrator at SLC.

Each teacher brings a special commitment and dedication to the program during this difficult time and believes that it is important to provide children with a safe, hands-on, dynamic educational experience. In addition, if there is a rise in COVID-19 among children and schools must close, the faculty are prepared to provide a rich, virtual experience supplemented with an array of assignments that can be implemented at home.

For additional information, please contact Frazier at 434-390-67090 or the school, 434-395-0140 or sunriselearningc@gmail.com. You may also visit the website at sunriselearningc.com.