Grant Pushes Play on New Equipment for Preschool

PARAMUS, N.J. – Leveraging a portion of a $208,434 federal grant, Bergen Community College unveiled new playground equipment for its on-campus early learning facility and dedicated the space in honor of its longtime director, Sally Dionisio, who will soon retire. The unveiling and dedication took place Aug. 1 at the College’s Child Development Center in Ender Hall at the College’s main campus.

Under the U.S. Department of Education’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant program, Bergen offers additional early childhood education opportunities for low- to moderate-income families. Among the offerings, the College provides weekly networking open houses, bi-monthly workshops and an afterschool program for student-parents. Through the grant, and with other federal assistance funds last year, the College offered tuition-free enrollment for the children of 25 student-parents who expressed a need for childcare due to the pandemic. The initiative impressed federal officials, including First Lady Jill Biden, Ed.D., and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Ed.D., who visited Bergen to laud its efforts in providing support services for students.

Each semester, the preschool offers early childhood education for 45 children ages two- to five-years-old, educating more than 1,100 since its inception in 1982. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and licensed by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, center enrollees include the children of College faculty, staff and students and those from the greater Bergen County region. As a laboratory school, the center provides an on-campus observation, demonstration, field and workforce training site for the College’s students, who use the center to fulfill their course requirements relating to child development.

Led by certified teachers, the center features three classrooms that support both hands-on play and the development of academic concepts in math, science, social studies, language arts and the creative arts. Children also have access to computers, an outdoor play area and learning resources such as a community garden.

Children can enroll in either a full- or part-time schedule. The center operates from September until the end of the College’s summer II classes, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Children of College faculty, staff and students receive discounted tuition. For more information, or to schedule a visit, please call (201) 447-7165.

The retiring director, Dionisio, has worked at the center since its opening 40 years ago and led the facility since 2011.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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