A private preschool is poised to open in downtown Dallas, sending a clear message that more families are choosing to live and work in urban areas.
Celebree School Dallas Arts District announced Wednesday its newest location at 2400 Bryan St. Another Dallas campus is planned in the North Park area at 5459 La Sierra Drive.
“I’m a big believer in the resurgence of downtown,” Mindi McClure told CandysDirt.com. “It’s not happening everywhere, but it is happening in Dallas. Young people want to live in the more urban areas, and they want to stay after they start having families. We’re part of that important infrastructure that makes a community work. In addition to serving families who live here, there’s also a big downtown work population.”
The population of downtown Dallas was a few hundred in the late 1990s and has grown to about 15,000 today, according to Downtown Dallas Inc.
“You’re seeing all this new residential downtown around the Farmer’s Market,” McClure said. “You’re seeing a lot of old office buildings being repurposed as residential. We had a family come in from Bishop Arts District because we’re really close. There’s a lot of development going on in East Dallas near Baylor [University Medical Center] and also in The Cedars.”
Celebree School began in 1994 in Maryland.
The Celebree School Dallas Arts District has plans for about 170 students between six weeks and 4 years old.
“I am so passionate about early childhood education and the impact that it has on children through their whole educational career and adult life,” McClure said. “What we’re really trying to do is make sure all our children are in an environment where they’re comfortable and happy and meeting educational milestones, meaning they’re going to go to pre-K and kindergarten and have a great experience.”
Celebree is currently working on permitting and construction of a 10,000-square-foot early childhood center with plans to open in late fall or early winter. The building, formerly the old Dallas High School, owned by Matthews Southwest is easily accessible from Central Expressway.
“We got it as a shell and we’ve added 10 classrooms, all the children’s restrooms, sinks and cabinets in the kitchen, a teacher’s lounge, a conference room, and 5,000 square feet of outdoor play area for the children, including an urban garden,” McClure said, “We’re close to the Farmer’s Market so we like that tie-in.”
Celebree uses The Creative Curriculum, a play-based learning style, McClure explained.
“It really encourages children to do what they’re interested in because we feel like that’s the best way to engage children and teach the love of learning,” she said. “A lightbulb went on for me when I had young children and both my husband and I had challenging careers. You really need to have that reliable, great infrastructure in your life in order to make your lives work as a young family.”
Celebree is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and will have about 25 full-time-equivalent employees.
Partnering With Downtown Dallas Inc. And Greater East Dallas Chamber of Commerce
Celebree is a member of Downtown Dallas Inc. and the Greater East Dallas Chamber of Commerce, both of which have offered “phenomenal support” to the new school, McClure said.
The space is right off Central Expressway and is a seven-minute drive from Baylor University Medical Center and a three-minute drive from Uptown.
DDi’s 360 Plan calls for building “complete neighborhoods” in part by increasing educational opportunities for the children of downtown workers and residents, said DDI president and CEO Jennifer Scripps.
“The opening of the Celebree School Dallas Arts District is one of the latest signs that downtown Dallas is evolving into a complete neighborhood that can serve all types of families, including residents and workers with young children,” Scripps said. “The Celebree School network has a decades-long track record of success in other states and we were thrilled to help them identify their downtown Dallas location.”
Celebree participated in DDI’s trick-or-treat event earlier this week and a Harwood Park grand opening in September.
“There are so many amazing amenities downtown that weren’t even here two or three years ago,” McClure said. “Part of what is so fun about opening this school is you’re really in the community all the time, getting to know people, getting to know the families and what they want. It’s about the kids, but it’s also about what the community needs.”
The Greater East Dallas Chamber of Commerce organized Celebree’s ribbon-cutting ceremony last week.
Also last week, administrators at Celebree School registered a family that lives up Central Expressway near Interstate 635, but the parents work downtown. The same day, another family registered who lives downtown and works in North Dallas.
“It’s a mix,” McClure said.