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Harrison Program Lets Kids Be the Teachers

HARRISON, N.Y. - Lauren Angarano has been teaching at the Harrison Children's Center for almost five years and has become known for drafting lessons straight from the kid's mouths.

"It's a lot of fun that way," Angarano said. "I try to find what they like to learn about and work around it."

Angarano once crafted a class project revolving around worms after noticing her students were intrigued by the worms they found in the earth. She had students raise and observe the worms and learn about the environment and composting in the process.

"We found ourselves on the internet together looking up how to care for worms," Angarano said. "We learn together."

A previous class once asked Angarano what they were looking at as they stared at the sky. After telling her students that planets were orbiting in space, the simple question of "What are planets?" shifted into an entire curriculum at the center.

Debbie Imperia is the executive director of the children's center and said the curriculum was one thing that made the facility unique.

"We always center around the interests of the children," Imperia said. "It's very hands-on."

The teaching methods have helped make the Harrison Children's Center a popular early childhood destination in downtown Harrison with parents having to register up to six months in advance.

"We're not afraid to do it and the kids have a great time."

The center breaks into two learning rooms split by age between three-year-olds and four-year-olds and includes a diverse group of children. Imperia said this year brought kids from families coming from Italy, France, China, Japan, Holland, India, and more.

Angarano and other instructors typically spend years with the children and watch them grow. She said the camaraderie could sometimes surprise her.

"Sometimes I forget how old they are," Angarano said. "It's tough when they leave. I cry every year."

Have you put your son or daughter through the Harrison Children's Center program? Tell us what you think on Facebook and Twitter .

E-mail town reporter Phil Corso at PCorso@TheDailyHarrison.com .

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