Reading is believing

Mayor Kenney visited Brightside Academy to read to children and tour the facility.

Storytime: Mayor Jim Kenney stopped by Brightside Academy to read books to the children at the child care and early education provider in Oxford Circle. The facility added a classroom with 20 students, which was paid for by funds raised from the beverage tax the mayor enacted last year. During his visit, Kenney met with many teachers and took part in various activities at the school, which has 199 students enrolled. JOHN COLE / TIMES PHOTOS

By John Cole

Last Wednesday, Mayor Jim Kenney visited Brightside Academy, 6000 Castor Ave., to read to preschool students and tour the facility.

Brightside Academy is a child care and early education provider located across Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. There are 25 sites located in the city of Philadelphia alone, servicing approximately 4,000 children.

Due to the beverage tax enacted by Kenney, Brightside Academy’s Castor Avenue site added a classroom with 20 students in January 2017. There are currently 199 students enrolled at the school with a capacity of 202. There are 22 teachers on site.

Bettina Merritt, a parent of a student at the academy, had the opportunity to speak to the mayor on the importance of funding early childhood education and lauded the work that Brightside Academy had done thus far for her son, Sir-Ethan. She believes the teacher-to-student ratio and model they have there has led to her son’s advanced development in school.

“(He’s reading) on a first-grade level already and he’s not even in kindergarten yet,” said Merritt.

Merritt, a manager at the Philadelphia Pretzel Factory, at Cottman and Loretto avenues, will start as a teacher aide at Brightside Academy in the near future. Brightside Academy employs about 800 teachers throughout Philadelphia, but Chief Operating Officer Jack Safer added, “We always have room for more.”

Kenney’s tour led him to interacting with multiple teachers leading different activities. He concluded his visit by reading a children’s book. ••