Dunmorean of the Month: LeeAnn Perry

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore native LeeAnn Perry always knew she wanted to help children.

That is her primary motivation in life. 

And soon she will be opening up her third children’s learning center.

LeeAnn, 51, a 1987 Dunmore High School graduate, received a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education from Keystone College in 2008 and then earned a Pennsylvania Director’s Credential. She is working towards a master’s degree in education. 

She is currently the owner of Perry’s Academy of Learning Centers, located at both 104 and 114 Prospect St., Dunmore.

And she is about to own and operate a third Perry’s Academy of Learning Center at the site where Heil’s Place used to be located, on the corner of Wheeler Avenue and Ash Street, Scranton.

LeeAnn bought the building, had it torn down, and will build on the site through the help of her husband John, a prominent Dunmore contractor. 

“We hope to break ground on the site of the 5,000 square foot facility next year,” she said. 

LeeAnn used to work for the Dunmore School District, but always knew she wanted to work with children so she started a day care center at home and it built from there. Today there is a long waiting list for her two current centers.

“She is busy operating two centers on the same street and soon will be operating a third where Heil’s Place used to be,” said Valerie Amico, Dunmore. “She is well known in the community and has a waiting list.

“There is so much to say about this wonderful, petite, giving lady.”

LeeAnn and her husband John have three children: Marla Decker, R.N., 33, married to Dr. Robert Decker, MD; Dr. Taylor Perry, D.C., married to Dr. Jack McWilliams, D.C.; and John Perry, 23, a recent University of Scranton Business Management graduate who now works for his dad’s contracting business. 

The couple has two grandchildren: Robbie, 4, and Olivia, 2, children of Marla and Robert Decker.

“I always loved children, so I decided to start a day care center at my house,” said LeeAnn. “Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to work with young children. I knew this is what I wanted, so I did it. Eventually, it grew and continued to grow.

“I do a lot of the front end work now. I have a great staff of 28. We make sure everything is running well and above standards. The classrooms and curriculum are always updated and we employ administrative directors.”

LeeAnn worked as a classroom assistant for special education in the Dunmore School District while attending Keystone in a Weekender program. “I was working full time, managing a family and going to school on weekends,” she said. “It was hard, but I did it. I was 38 when I graduated. It was well worth it.”

LeeAnn said she enjoys cooking and running in her spare time. “I love to cook,” she said. “It is very relaxing for me.”

She tries to give back to the community by serving children. “We try to keep it personal with the families.”

LeeAnn said she might not stop yet with a third learning center in the making. “Who knows? We might keep going after we get the third center running.”

And it is the children who keep her motivated.

“Children are healers,” she said. “The laughter of children is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.” 

Dunmorean of the Month: Robert Mancuso

Robert J.Mancuso, a life-long and third generation Dunmorean, is the epitome of Dunmore Pride.

His late grandfather Bruno Mancuso settled in Dunmore from Nicastro, Italy in the late 1800’s and was a master tailor at the former Bonds Sportwear, Scranton.  

His late father Ralph, a graduate of Dunmore High School, was a civil engineer and built numerous buildings throughout Northeastern PA, including several classroom/dormitory buildings at the University of Scranton.  

His sons, both graduates of Dunmore High School, excelled in both the classroom and football field/basketball court.  His oldest son Bobby graduated from Colgate University with a bachelor of arts degree in Economics where he was a four-year member of the football team.  Bobby also graduated with an MBA in Finance from the University of Scranton and a Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law.  He is currently a Partner in the New York City Office of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP. 

His youngest son Rick graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a bachelor of science degree. in Computer Science & Engineering He was a member of the football team and set numerous quarterback school records that still stand today.  

Rick also graduated with a Master of Science in Software Engineering from the University of Scranton.  He is currently a Senior Software Engineer at EA Sports, Tiburon Florida Studio, where he develops the Madden NFL game.

Bob himself is a 1975 graduate of Dunmore High School where he was an outstanding All-Regional basketball player on several District Championship teams.  He also participated in baseball while in high school and played two years of college basketball before a career-ending injury ended his college playing days.  

He then graduated with a bachelor of science degree. & MBA in Accounting from the University of Scranton and the BAI Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He is currently the Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Wayne Bank, a $1.9 billion regional Community Bank with 31 offices throughout Northeastern PA, Southern New York Catskills, Cooperstown New York Region and the New York Finger Lakes Region.

For the past 43 years, Bob is proud to have provided banking services to the Dunmore community, as well as his years coaching at the Dunmore Little League/Dunmore Biddy Basketball and serving as treasurer for the Dunmore Biddy Basketball Program.

In addition to his parents and wife Lorraine, Bob credits his Dunmore upbringing and the education and athletics from the Dunmore School District for the excellent academic and career preparation for not only himself, but his father and sons who are all graduates of the Dunmore School District.

To say Bob is Dunmore Proud would be an understatement.

Dunmoreans of the Month: Amanda & Rebecca Lucas

By Steve Svetovich

Raising two daughters as a single mom has its challenges, but Dunmore’s Janet Lucas has absolutely no regrets. And she sure did good.

Amanda Lucas, Dunmore High School Class of 2018 Valedictorian, and Rebecca Lucas, Dunmore High School Class of 2020 Salutatorian, daughters of Janet Lucas, Dunmore, and Curt Lucas, South Carolina, are now college students.

Both were officers and members of many clubs at Dunmore. Both participated in various varsity sports and cheerleading. They were asked to represent Dunmore High School in leadership roles, including the Rotary Youth Leadership Association (RYLA) and Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY). Both are active leaders in the Dunmore community.

Their proud mom feels their accomplishments are extraordinary coming from sisters two years apart. 

Dunmoreans of the Month - JANET & family

Janet Lucas, at left, is shown at her daughter Amanda’s graduation in 2018 when she was valedictorian of her class. At right is daughter Rebecca, who was salutatorian of the DHS class of 2020.

“As a single mom,” she said, “I have strived to make my daughters feel like they matter, and that they are loved unconditionally. 

“I always wanted Amanda and Rebecca to be respectful, grateful, thoughtful and conscientious. I worked hard to instill those qualities and give them a strong foundation. From there, it was all them.

“Their work ethic and self motivation is unbelievable, even when it was difficult. I am so proud of the young women they have become, and so excited to see what they will accomplish. I am in awe of my daughters.”

Amanda is a junior at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, majoring in chemistry. She has an impressive 3.97 academic average. She serves as honor’s mentor for the Honor’s Program at St. Joseph’s. She is a resident assistant (RA) for a freshmen dormitory.

While at Dunmore, Amanda participated in golf, swimming, track and field, football cheerleading, yearbook editor, events coordinator for the engineering club, treasurer of the French Club and vice president of TACT. As a senior, she was Dunmore’s first female All Regional selection for golf. And she was class valedictorian and member of the National Honor Society. 

Articulate, courteous and polite, Amanda said she learned a lot from her mom. “My mom taught me about perseverance and hard work. In order to accomplish anything in life, you need to work hard at it. And she did a lot for me to help me along.” 

Amanda said she would like to eventually go to graduate school for Forensic Science and get into the field as a career. 

She said it is nice to see her sister do well in school. “It is a friendly competition and it’s good for us. She sees what I do and then strives to do better. It’s a good thing.”

Amanda, well spoken, has high praise for Dunmore. “It was so close knit and personal. We know all the teachers and they know us. It is also kind of cool to have your coaches as teachers.

“St. Joseph’s is also a small school. I have a small major and the same kids are in most of my classes. Right now we are wearing masks and social distancing. We social distance in the residence hall.”

Rebecca, 18, is a freshman at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia where she majors in Pharmacy. It is a six-year program and she has intentions of becoming a pharmacist. 

While at Dunmore, she was class salutatorian finishing with a 3.84 academic average. She was a member of track and field, golf, basketball cheerleading captain, Science Club, French Club, TACT, Art Club, SADD and National Honor Society. 

Also polite and insightful, Rebecca praised her mom. “My mom always taught me to work hard. She always tells me no matter what, it works out in the end. She is always there for me.”

Rebecca said she is grateful how Dunmore High School handled the pandemic. “Our teachers were very helpful getting us the information we needed online. They posted information on the AP test.

“Besides school work, I did a lot of running and spent time with family during the pandemic. It caused us to miss the track season.”

Finally, her class graduated this past July 17 in a small ceremony outdoors at the football stadium. 

Rebecca said her goal is to become a pharmacist and help with surgeries and new medicines. “Helping with new medicines is very important to me because of this pandemic.”

As Class of 2020 Salutatorian, she feels a sense of accomplishment. “I feel very honored. I put hard work into it and it paid off.”

She is also proud of her older sister’s accomplishments. “I have a strong sense of fulfillment for what she has done, but I don’t compare myself.”

Rebecca spoke glowingly of her experiences at Dunmore. “It was very fulfilling and heart warming. I received a great education and met a lot of amazing people.”

The sisters have one more thing in common. When asked separately who they would want to see in concert, if they could pick just one, both responded Harry Styles.