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Chester County Press

Preschool receives grant that will provide 'Bright Beginnings' for youngsters in Oxford area

08/20/2013 04:43PM ● By Acl

Dr. Raymond Fischer, Jack Coleman, Juan Olivier, Abigail Powell, Rebecca Powell, Mary Fasick, and Zoey Weaver.

By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

Youngsters in the Oxford area will have access to a successful preschool program aimed at helping early learners develop age-appropriate skills as they begin school.

Bright Beginnings Child Care in Oxford recently received a $300,000 grant to start the Pre-K Counts Program during the 2013-14 school year.

“We are honored and proud that we were chosen for this vitally important program,” said Mary Fasick, the owner of Bright Beginnings. “We have an outstanding group of teachers and staff who are dedicated to providing the highest-quality child care possible.”

The Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Program is free for qualifying children. In order to qualify, students must be 3 or 4 years of age, be English language learners, have special early learning needs, and be at-risk of school failure because of income or family situations.

“Our philosophy at Bright Beginnings has always been to provide assistance to students of all socio-economic levels,” Fasick said.

Applications for the program are now available at the Oxford Neighborhood Services Center. Space in the program is limited and participation is based on an evaluation of eligibility. Fasick said that the goal is to provide help to those students who need it the most.

“The program is for three- and four-year-olds with special early-learning needs,” Fasick said. She noted that historically the Pre-K Counts Program helped 98 percent of the students show age-appropriate or emerging age-appropriate proficiency in literacy, math, and social skills.

Dr. Raymond Fischer, who recently retired as the superintendent of the Oxford Area School District, said that he was excited that students in the Oxford area would benefit from this opportunity because a child’s early years are so important to lifelong learning.

“It’s nice to have an organization in Oxford get {this funding},” Fischer said. He added that the program will provide students with the foundational skills that they need to succeed in kindergarten, including social, emotional, language, and literacy skills.

Bright Beginnings has always worked closely with the Oxford Area School District.

“We've had a very successful relationship for 13 years,” Fasick said of the collaboration. She explained that Dr. David Hamburg, a principal in the school district, organized a meeting between preschool officials and the district's kindergarten teachers to discuss the expectations of students when they reach kindergarten so that the staffs of the preschools understood them.

“They are making it so that we have a seamless transition,” Fasick said.

When Fasick went through the lengthy process of applying for the grant, she sought help from Fischer and Jim McLeod. McLeod has been involved with leading several non-profits in the area and has experience with the grant-application process. Fischer, meanwhile, had success obtaining grants when he was an administrator with the Oxford Area School District. His wife, Nancy, a professional proofreader, lent her talents to the project as well.

Fasick said that JoAnna Collins, the educational director and co-owner of the Creative Play Day School in Toughkenamon, will be serving as a mentor as Bright Beginnings implements the Pre-K Counts program. Collins already has experience with the program.

“The program is designed to be collaborative,” she said.

The program will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday each week of the school year. Classes will begin on Sept. 30 and children must be three or four years of age before Sept. 1 to participate.

One reason that Bright Beginnings was successful in obtaining the grant is its status as a top-tier Pennsylvania-ranked child care center—it has a Star Four designation, the highest possible. Fasick said that the funding from the state will allow Bright Beginnings to hire two additional Pennsylvania-certified teachers to help implement the program. The funding can also be used for the curriculum development.

“They want us to do a quality program,” Fasick said. “We’re doing this to promote a strong foundation for the students to have success. This is a natural transition for us. This is our passion and our dedication. This is a group effort for our community and we’re really proud to implement a much-needed service. Our community needs it and will benefit from it.”

For more information about the Pre-K Counts program, contact Bright Beginnings at 610-932-6700. 


There is an income component to qualifying for the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Program. Families must earn no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify. Here's a look at the maximum allowable income based on family size:

Family size Annual Income

1 $34,470

2 $46,530

3 $58,590

4 $70,650

5 $82,710

6 $94,770

7 $106,830

8 $118,890