Alton Park may get early childhood center - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Alton Park may get early childhood center

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - At the Creative Discovery Museum, learning is all hands on, and Lynda LeVan, Director of External Affairs at the museum hopes to bring this to Alton Park. 

They are hoping to renovate a dilapidated building adjacent to Calvin Donaldson Elementary School, and give it a fresh look as an early learning center. 

Not only would the building be new, but so would the curriculum. The curriculum they want to use is called Reggio, it comes from Italy. This center would be the first to use the Reggio approach in the United States.

"For instance if you're learning about a spider, you're not looking at a picture of a spider, you are looking at a real spider, and the teachers are watching the children to follow their interest to help develop that,” said Lynda LeVan.

But all of this comes with a price tag, about $2, 000,000. So far the City of Chattanooga will drop about $500,000 into the project, but Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger is less committal.

"We support what the Creative Discovery Museum is trying to do with early childhood education, but our responsibility and commitment is to secondary education which is K-12,” said Coppinger.

Without Hamilton County, other investors could drop out. One investor told the museum they will invest only if Hamilton County Government does. 

Andrea Pritchett lives right across the street with her two year old daughter from where the learning center may sit one day, and hopes the center can happen for her daughter.

"I want to see her progressing, I want to see her learn her ABC's, I want to see her get out of Chattanooga," said Pritchett.

While for now it's not clear whether the Creative Discovery Museum will get all the money they need, Lynda tells Channel 3 they are going to keep pushing, so every child can get an early start.

Student tuition will be based on what the parent can afford, some may not have to pay anything. The center will also be a community resource with workshops for anyone. 

Organizers hope they can still convince Hamilton County Commission to match what the city of Chattanooga offered.

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