More Reasons to Love Learning
A new early childhood learning center and two new science labs have made Wyndcroft the school “where everyone knows your name”
by Daniel Sean Kaye

Since 1918, The Wyndcroft School has developed the minds and nurtured the souls of countless young people across the region. With a desire to foster academic excellence while creating true “thinkers” who will live beneficial and joyful lives, the little school on Rosedale Drive in Pottstown has been fostering an exuberant passion for knowledge for nearly 100 years.

This goal of providing a lifelong love of learning, explains Gail Wolter, head of school, is what has made The Wyndcroft School so very special. It is also why the school recently extended its physical footprint, completely renovating a nearby property in order to create a new, state-of-the-art facility for its youngest learners.

The new Wyndcroft early childhood learning center, Highland House, opened in September 2012 after an extensive two-year planning process and the securing of the property, formerly a historic mansion and private residence. Groundbreaking began in April 2012 and extensive work began immediately thereafter, renovating the building to suit the anticipated needs of 3-year-olds in the school’s early childhood learning program and for 4-year-olds in prekindergarten.

Construction included adding kid-friendly washrooms, making the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by adding an elevator and ramping, moving the playground to the front of the property, redoing the parking lot to better suit the staff and visitors, making slight changes to the kitchen, and modifying the basement so that it could be used as a playroom for the young students.

Before this construction, these groups of young learners were in The Wyndcroft School’s main building “ever since the school began,” says Wolter. By adding this new space, Wyndcroft is now able to create larger instructional areas for more free play and hands-on activities for the children and to increase learning lab space in each classroom. “We have always had a great program, with hands-on activities to prepare them. Now we have much more room, for cooking, playing and learning. They have room for discovering space and for science, for an art center and for whatever else they’ll need.”

The new building currently has 25 students enrolled but has the capacity to grow to as many as to 40. “We keep classes small because we feel it’s important. We do not have a goal of being larger,” explains Wolter. With classes at a smaller size, the student-to-teacher ratio is quite favorable: The early childhood program has two adults (a teacher and an instructional aide) per eight students, and the prekindergarten group has two teachers for the 14 students.

The curriculum for Wyndcroft’s early childhood program is to provide children with “the foundation of an outstanding education in a safe, nurturing environment,” says Wolter. Students enjoy readiness skills in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The weekly French class introduces them to the sounds and culture of France, and the weekly movement class helps develop large motor skills. The philosophy of this program is to introduce children to academics, special enrichment, and individual attention in a small classroom setting to help each of them to establish a firm foundation for a happy and successful future.

Wyndcroft’s prekindergarten students also enjoy fun activities and learn school readiness in an enriching, academic environment. Children learn left-to-right progression, printing, alphabet sounds, rhyming words and sight words. They explore basic mathematics, including recognizing and writing numerals, counting sets of objects, completing patterns and adding. They also practice and refine fine motor skills and learn collaboration and how to follow directions. Play and discover are considered critical aspects of The Wyndcroft School’s prekindergarten program, with students enjoying cooking, finger painting, taking part in classroom projects and much more. Prekindergarteners also have enrichment classes, taking part in a full complement of special courses including music, art, computer, library, physical education and French.

An added benefit to the construction of the new facility is that by moving the youngest students to this renovated building, Wyndcroft has opened up space in the main building.

“Before, we had two modular classrooms for the fourth grade. But now we have more room to expand and develop our science centers for the older students,” says Wolter, referring to the newly renovated rooms that house two new beautiful science labs.
“We have always made good use of the space we had, but we have reached the point where we really needed more room. We knew that if we had flexible space, which could be used for multiple purposes when needed, that would help with the constraints of our schedules,” she says. “With this, I really feel that we’ve gone from the ‘one-building’ school we have always been to more of a campus.”

Keeping Wyndcroft relatively small but understanding the need for additional space to help foster learning is an important balance for the school. “Wyndcroft is known as a small school where everybody knows everyone’s name. We’re part of a family,” explains Wolter. “We want to remain a small, independent school, to provide a great program within a nurturing environment. We want to keep exposing our children to very different things, with teachers trained to work with children at the appropriate developmental age.”

“Our goal is to provide a lifelong love of learning,” she continues. “I have to say, [the early learning center] is one of the happiest places on the campus. It’s wonderful to hear such happy voices trying so many new things every day.”

The Wyndcroft School
1395 Wilson Street
Pottstown, PA 19464

Photography by Rob Hall