Thirty years ago,Warren Frank,my father-in-law had the incredible foresight and luck to purchase a shell of a building at Plymouth St. and Bridge St. in Dumbo,Brooklyn. After working all day long,he would work on the building at night – dry walling,sandblasting,cement pouring,etc usually by himself. Today I find myself in that same building looking out my windows at several new apartments and town houses about to be ready for inhabitants. My quiet vacant block,except for dog walkers and the sporadic Vinegar Hill House patrons is about to become much more vibrant with activity. There are a lot,lot,lot of new residences coming on line in DUMBO. That means a lot,lot,lot of new neighbors,many of them young families.
As I am a learning specialist in private practice,recently married,and beginning to think of children,I naturally looked around my neighborhood asking,where would I send my kids for enrichment activities or for extra help if they needed it? What activities do I want them exposed to based on what I know about the brain and the mind? What type of teachers and instructors do I want leading my kids? Where will all these new families take their kids? Why can’t Dumbo and Vinegar Hill have an awesome,kick-ass place for families to learn and grow,intellectually,physically,and emotionally? There is definitely a need –I think we can.
Two years ago,I began to day dream about a place that I called The Dumbo Community Center. In my mind,it is a place where families will confidently and enthusiastically bring their children for classes such as art,yoga,chess,reading,math,etc. It will be a one-stop shop full of experts including neuropsychologists,speech therapists,occupational therapists alongside expert teachers and clinicians.
Around the same time I began subletting space in Dumbo for my private tutoring practice. After losing my space twice in two years,my husband encouraged me to find space and lease it,because he wasn’t going to move all my materials again! I quickly found very reasonable space in the 68 Jay building,but it was too big for me. Then the light bulb went off –The Dumbo Community Center! (Or at least its beta site.) And then the ball kept rolling.
We can’t use “The Dumbo Community Center” yet name for several red tape reasons,so I choose the name Abundant Learning. Incredibly,already our space hosts many classes that match the original daydream – chess,art,yoga,and tutoring. However,our very popular class,Dumbo Einsteins came to us from a maverick mom in the neighborhood with an advanced three year old. She was found herself lackluster when exploring classes for her son in the neighborhood,and in the outlying neighborhoods as well. She challenged me to create a class for advanced tots,who already know their abc’s and 123’s. And voila – the Dumbo Einsteins class was born. We extended our expertise in what we already knew and created a class exposing tots to chess,literacy,and art while cementing their letters,numbers,and social skills. Sometimes dreams have nice surprises,and the Dumbo Einsteins class proves it.
With our first summer semester under our belt,and fall about to begin,I look backwards remembering how things unfolded to get me here with Abundant Learning. But,I continue to look forward with a vision of a larger,more comprehensive center meant to service the community with the highest caliber of expertise and wisdom.