Johnston’s newest business — Strawberry Fields Learning Academy — is the result of a two-year work-in-progress that despite being interrupted by COVID-19. The pandemic, however, …
Johnston’s newest business — Strawberry Fields Learning Academy — is the result of a two-year work-in-progress that despite being interrupted by COVID-19. The pandemic, however, could not stop owner Jessica DiRocco from realizing her dream.
DiRocco, a nurse practitioner who is steeped with vast experiences in education and day care areas — just to name a few — and her husband Daniel DiRocco bought the property at 700 Greenville Ave., which was once the home/office of Dr. Joseph Barone.
“I have always felt passionate opening up in Johnston,” DiRocco told an audience of family, friends, supporters and Mayor Joseph Polisena prior to the Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. “It was important to me as I was born and raised here and hoped to serve the town and surrounding communities.”
To say that DiRocco delivered and has built what many of the day’s guests concurred is “a facility that will provide an exceptional educational experience for children in a state-of-the-art setting,” would be an understatement.
Strawberry Fields Learning Academy has seven classrooms — all of which are impressively named from “Seeds” to “The Strawberry Field” — employing a staff of 16 people including six lead teachers, eight teacher assistants, Education Coordinator Arionna Silva and Director Kennedy Vescera.
Moreover, people were highly-impressed when DiRocco said, “I feel the Montessori method of education is a unique and effective way to support early childhood growth and development and with the support of my family we have been able to make this vision possible.”
To which Silva added: “It is the mission of Strawberry Fields to provide the highest quality of early childhood education in a warm, enriching and nurturing learning environment while promoting a progressive approach to educate the whole child as they socially, emotionally and cognitively develop to become independent, self-motivated learners.”
Vescera, who also issued a warm and wonderful welcome as she addressed the Grand Opening gathering of more than 60 people, offered: “Dr. Jessica DiRocco and her husband Daniel had a vision to build and open a Montessori-inspired childcare center, allowing children to receive the highest quality of early childhood education in a safe, fun and nurturing environment in Johnston and surrounding communities.”
“Because of their dedication, hard work and support of their staff, their vision has become a reality,” Vescera said. “It is often said in childcare that while we try to teach our children what life is all about, it is actually our children who teach us all about life. It is through our children that we are (reminded) to slow down and find wonder in small things; and see the world through a different lens.”
Although they weren’t part of the speaking program, Gregory and Janice Mangiante — DiRocco’s grandparents — were perhaps the proudest and most smiling people at the Grand Opening that included a post-ribbon cutting collation catered by famed Pranzi Catering of Cranston.
Meanwhile, as Mayor Polisena has said time and again during his storied tenure offered during a speech that included words of praise for the DiRoccos while thanking “Jessica and Daniel for choosing to build and open this beautiful business in Johnston” and also emphasizing “as I have said on many occasions, it is the small businesses that drive a town’s economic engine.”
The Mayor, who noted he was at the Johnston Town Council meeting when the couples’ license was unanimously approved, then turned back the hand of time to 1966 and asked the audience how many people remember The Beatles.
“As John Lennon and Paul McCartney sang in one of their famous recordings that is certainly appropriate here today; Strawberry Fields Forever,” said Polisena with a sincere smile on his face and musing prior to presenting Dr. DiRocco a special proclamation noting “the gold seal on this citation is not real gold.”
Polisena then read the Official Commendation that read, in part: “Be it hereby known to all that the Mayor’s office and Citizens of Johnston hereby offer sincere congratulations to Strawberry Fields Early Academy upon the Grand Opening and I would like to express the hope for success and best wishes now and in years to come.”
Daniel DiRocco then handed the Mayor and his wife an oversize pair of scissors to cut a long, red ribbon thus making it official that — as several supporters suggested while recanting a little history about the one-time home/medical office: “Once again there’s a doctor (Jessica DiRocco, DNP, APRN, FWP-BC) in the house here at 700 Greenville Ave. in Johnston!”
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