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.”