What was once a partnership idea that existed inside the minds of two educators is now a reality despite a pandemic that rages onward.
Located in front of the Oregon School District’s Forest Edge Elementary School in the Terravessa development, Fitchburg’s Mariposa Learning Center opened in partnership with Oregon’s Academy of Sound last June.
Academy of Sound, 408 N. Bergamont Blvd., is a school locally known for offering private lessons, which are available to children enrolled at Mariposa Learning Center — virtually for now.
At Mariposa, 4870 Brassica Road, the teachers educate their young learners about Spanish, the arts and music. This is Mariposa’s second building – it used to have a location in Stoughton at 720 Nygaard St., which it outgrew is it sought more amenities and space to help students create to their heart’s content.
“We’ve transitioned really well,” Patricia Wooldridge, Mariposa Learning Center director, told the Observer.
Erin Chisman, Academy of Sound owner, agreed with Wooldridge on a Nov. 24 Zoom call, saying, “We haven’t run into any roadblocks.”
Last spring, the partners were unsure of how their vision would come to fruition, even with Mariposa Learning Center deemed an essential business under the state’s Safer at Home orders. Wooldridge said the school had to cut its staff by 50% as COVID-19 cases continued to rise.
But Wooldridge said staff only delayed the center’s opening by two weeks to June 26.
“It was always meant to be,” Chisman said of opening Mariposa despite the small lapse in timing.
Wooldridge said she originally approached Chisman about the partnership in winter 2019, as the they have similar views on how children absorb knowledge. The kids that Mariposa serves – which include infants up through school-aged children – are at the most critical stages of development. That renders them extra capable of learning a musical instrument, language or art discipline, Wooldridge said.
That passion and the support families provided Mariposa gave her “high hopes” the center would inhabit its new home.
Those have clearly paid off — evidenced by the colorful Brassica Road building that’s decked out with radiant reds and blues on the outside, and butterflies and flowers on the inside.
There’s not much music echoing the halls quite yet. But students can take advantage of a practice piano in the front lobby that staff sanitize between each use. There’s another in a large art studio in the basement, which also houses a music practice room. The center also includes a natural playground and a garden.
So Chisman and Wooldridge are staying the center’s course, even as COVID-19 cases increase.
Enrollment numbers are a slight concern for the school, Chisman said, as there are families who isolate at home and can’t afford child care costs.
Children and infants who do go to Mariposa, but not for musical purposes, play in classroom “offices” separated by curtains. Educators and students wear masks and practice physical distancing. Staff deep clean everything, and follow public health protocols if there is a positive COVID-19 case.
Despite those adaptations, it is apparent the confidence Chisman and Wooldridge have in keeping the center afloat is not likely to waiver.
They might have to make decisions “in the blink of an eye,” but each said they are prepared for that.