Ridgewood School will start its first preschool program thanks to a recent donation from the estate of alumna Jane Pratt Bayley Hollenbeck.
The school didn’t reveal the amount of the donation, which was made through the Springfield Foundation, but Head of School Aliya Ranginwala said it’s enough for a total renovation of the school’s building and an addition to house the preschool.
“(The community is) going to see a whole new Ridgewood next year,” she said.
Renovations will begin over the summer and the school plans to hold a ground breaking in the fall for the expansion. It will start enrolling preschool students in the existing building next school year, Ranginwala said, but will likely not open the new addition until 2017.
“We’ll reveal the all new facility during the 2017-18 school year,” she said, which just happens to be the school’s 100-year anniversary.
The gift from Hollenbeck’s estate is earmarked for capital improvements and the school decided creating the preschool in addition to the building upgrades would be a fitting way to honor her commitment to education.
“She was a strong supporter of education,” Ranginwala said. “This was something she was very passionate about.”
The school has heard from a lot of current families with younger children and from others in the community that they would like to have a preschool program.
The school has educated children from kindergarten through eighth grade for nearly 100 years, so “why not start it even younger,” Ranginwala said.
The preschool will bear the names of Jane P.B. and Peter Hollenbeck.
An emphasis on early childhood education has driven many local schools to begin or expand preschool programs in recent years.
The demand at Springfield City School District has been so high, the school board approved adding $300,000 to its preschool budget to add three classrooms, bringing its total spending to about $1.9 million and total preschool enrollment to about 345 students. Its goal is to offer all-day, everyday classes to all preschoolers in the district in the near future
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 64 earlier this year, setting aside about $15 million for early childhood education programs throughout the state, including $700,000 that went to four Clark County preschool providers: Miami Valley Child Development Centers, Springfield Christian School, Miami Valley Child Development Centers and Springfield City School District.
Ridgewood is the oldest co-educational, non-sectarian independent day school in the state of Ohio. It was founded in 1918.
Hollenbeck graduated from the school in 1929.
“It’s really a moment to celebrate, not just for the school, but for the entire community,” Ridgewood Board of Trustee member Deanna Brougher said in a statement. “It’s a fitting milestone that acknowledges the school’s excellence over the last hundred years and at the same time, it’s a spring board to propel us into our next hundred years.”
Hollenbeck, who died Feb. 15, was a supporter of both Wittenberg University, her alma mater, and Clark State Community College, as well the Springfield Museum of Art and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
Several buildings in the community are named in her honor, including Hollenbeck Hall, the arts and humanities building at Wittenberg, and the Hollenbeck-Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center at Clark State.
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