Murrysville gets Goddard School

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The 400-some Goddard Schools for Early Childhood Development, in existence for 25 years, have made quite the splash around the country, and have several locations in the Pittsburgh area.

Now the efforts of one Murrysville resident is bringing a Goddard School to the community.

The key to the Goddard Schools' success is the focus of "Learning through play, which is delivered through our F.L.E.X. program -- Fun Learning Experience," said TJ Kravits, owner of the Murrysville school. "You're learning through doing, not learning through listening.

"On a daily basis they're being taught by going to various learning centers. The children can go to the learning centers that they choose," he explained.

Mr. Kravits formerly worked in New York City and said it was 2004 when he noticed there was a school in New Jersey. After checking it out, he was so impressed that when he moved to Murrysville he decided to start a Goddard school there. Gooodard schools are franchised.

Three things make the school's approach unique, Mr. Kravits said.

"When you look at the split of job duties between myself as the onsite owner and the educational director, it allows her to spend more time in the classroom" as opposed to one person juggling both responsibilities, Mr. Kravits said.

While all schools are independently owned, "Our corporate people come in twice-a-year unannounced [with a] 27-page checklist," Mr. Kravitz said. "It's as strict as the state."

The third is "Child-centered learning," Mr. Kravits said. "The teachers ... can observe children in small groups, to determine which children need more help, which children need more challenge. They can customize learning plans not only for specific classes but specific individuals."

Mr. Kravits declined to provide tuition figures. "We're in line with other day-care providers across the country," he said.

The path to ownership of a Goddard franchise involves several steps, Mr. Kravits said. "Goddard does a pretty good due diligence; when I went through the process, they do extensive background checks," and he interviewed at the corporate office in King of Prussia, Montgomery County. "That part can be done in a few months."

Next issue: Site location, which can take a couple of years, based on such things as traffic flow, and which is assisted by a real estate team that the school maintains.

Why Murrysville? "Murrysville is very big and focused on education and family life," Mr. Kravits said. It will be the fifth Goddard school in the Pittsburgh area, following those already established in Cranberry, Pine, Moon and Peters. Located at 400 Blue Spruce Way just past the Monroeville line off William Penn Highway, it is scheduling an open house for 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

For more information, call 724-271-8000.

Rick Nowlin: or 412-263-3871.

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