By Michael Pruglo
Take one step into the Staten Island Community Center and Islander’s Kids Learning Day Care Center and you immediately sense something different about this place. There is a mixture of home, community, organization, and belonging all at once. It is difficult to even tell that the entire community was struck by Super storm Sandy just a mere six months prior.
The hallways are decorated with photographs of the children dancing, upcoming picture days, and student work. Children are singing in the different classrooms to songs being played on the piano. The aroma of homemade food fills the building as breakfast is prepared in the kitchen.
The center opened in 2004 to serve the Dongan Hills area of Staten Island, and quickly news spread of its excellence to all of Staten Island, and even New Jersey and Brooklyn. Since then, it has become well known as a center for academic excellence, dance, music, art, summer programs, and Universal Pre-Kindergarten through the City of New York. Unfortunately, the building was severely damaged during the storm, but reopened in less than two months. The people of the community have come together in an incredible effort to rebuild, even better than the original. The first level now has gorgeous, completely redesigned music, dance, and art studios, where the kids can enjoy both: group, and privately scheduled piano, guitar, dance, chess, and art lessons from our highly qualified professionals.
The Islanders Kids Day care center also boasts the New York City Board of Education Universal Pre Kindergarten program, as well as one third of the students entering the City’s Gifted and Talented programs each year. The goal of the Islander’s Kids Learning Center is to bring affordable, well-rounded, advanced education, with high expectations to children 2.0 to 6.0 years old, regardless of race, creed, or cultural background.
The Staten Island Community Center (SICC), school age program goal is to remain as a stable place for children to spend time together in a supervised environment after school. Our teachers pick them up from school, help them with their homework, and provide a nutritious snack. We want to continue to pull school age kids off the streets and provide choices in music, art, and dance so that they can express themselves through the arts. We are providing creative channels for their energy.
The neighborhood is a diverse New York City residential area. The center’s mission is to socialize children in this environment. “We bring all of our children there for their second birthday,” says one mother. “The experience simply cannot be replaced.”
The center’s director/owner, Ella Fridman, has over 30 years of teaching experience in both early childhood education, and music. “We socialize children at a very early age.” The children have obvious routines and enjoy their schedules. They are calm, and make transitions with ease. The entire center runs like clockwork.
Renovations are ongoing after Super storm Sandy both in our building, and in the Staten Island community. Sandy is gone, but we stand up stronger and better than ever!