Parents in the northern part of Lebanon County have a new option for day care in the recently renovated Herr Mill building.
The Learning Mill, located along Jonestown Road in Jonestown, opened its doors on March 18, in what was formerly a feed mill.
Owners and operators Lauren Terrill-Ganster and Lauren Yenik both have backgrounds in child care. Terrill-Ganster has a Bachelor of Science in Child Development from IUP and spent over eight years in social work before meeting Yenik, who was running her own day care facility.
The two wound up as business partners, and ultimately set their sights on opening a childcare center unlike anything else in the area.
Part of the building that is now The Learning Mill has been standing along Jonestown Road since the 19th-century. While such a building offers its charm, it also presents a set of challenges when trying to make it suitable as a childcare center.
One such challenge is that from The Learning Mill west along Jonestown Road to Route 72 there is no storm sewer system.
“We’ve gone to the township several times; asking for a storm sewer system,” says Terrill-Ganster, going on to mention that the business’s neighbors have been asking the township for a storm sewer system since the 1970’s.
What results are relatively severe water-drainage issues.
Last summer, rain runoff from the adjacent King’s Plantation development worked its way into the alley behind The Learning Mill where seven-and-a-half feet of water accumulated in the back of the property.
Despite this, Terril-Ganster and Yenik, along with the construction know-how of Ron Young and Young’s Contracting, were able to create the warm and cozy environment that had envisioned, while retaining the ambiance and feel of such a historic building.
Throughout The Learning Mill, there are examples of wood that had been salvaged from the mill and repurposed to add to the decor of the entryway and main hall way, and even to construct bathroom stalls.
The transformation of the historic building is something Yenik says some people didn’t think was possible.
“People are just kind of in awe of the transformation,” Yenik says. “Before the was construction was complete they were like, ‘How are they going to do this?'”
The Learning Mill’s approach to teaching kids sets apart as much as its building’s aesthetics and history.
Terrill-Ganster and Yenik plan on utilizing a “learn through play” approach, which, while not uncommon, the intending on eschewing more convetional work books structured play. This allows kids to learn skills like conflict resolution, problem solving, and spatial recognition.
Children receive two meals and two snacks per day, and transport to Northern Lebanon schools is available.
Now, just shy of a month after opening, The Learning Mill is hiring group supervisors and assistants. These positions have separate necessary qualifications, but both require passing multiple background checks and obtaining the required clearances.
Looking to the future, Terrill-Ganster and Yenik plan on holding community events over the summer and eventually renting out the other floors of the building to other businesses.
Find some more photos of the mill below, courtesy of Courtney Haldeman Photography.
Update 9:34am: An earlier version of this post misstated the lack of a storm sewer system as the lack of a sewer system. This was incorrect, the site does have sewer. We sincerely regret the error.