Tuition-free, early learning academy planned for Pasco

PASCO, Wash. – In 2022, an old Boys and Girls Club building in Pasco, off of Court Street, will once again be filled with young minds and educators.

“Pasco, Franklin County was at the top of their list and so they knew that they needed to be here,” Matt Truman with the Housing Authority explained how the area was chosen.

“We wanted to prioritize children’s families who were at or near the poverty line; we set an admissions policy based on that,” Michael Abello with Bezos Academy added.

Truman, the Executive Director of the Pasco Franklin Housing Authority said with many families struggling to afford childcare amid the pandemic, this academy couldn’t come at a better time.

“Having opportunities for their children to be able to go to a school like this free of charge; tuition free, is a great opportunity for them to put those dollars into other parts of their lives that’ll make them better,” he said.

Truman said many parents have had to chose between work and staying at home with their kids.

The Bezos Academy, started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, wants to ease that decision.

READ MORE: Bezos Academy to open in Franklin County in 2022

“Just stability in general for them to be able to work and provide and to know that their kids are getting a quality education,” Truman said.

The Montessori-inspired preschool caters to three to five year old children, is open five days a week, all year long, for low-income families.

“We also really prioritize serving the whole child and really letting the child guide and facilitate their learning; so really following the children’s’ interests, needs, desires while still thinking about their development across multiple learning domains,” Michael Abello, Head of Education explained.

Abello said they also work closely with the local community and families who’s children are enrolled at the academy. He said they want to cater classroom activities based on the local interests and what’s important to their families.

So, in an area like Franklin County which is rich with Hispanic Culture and agricultural values, Abello said teachers could potentially implement those themes for the children.

“We can’t envision doing this work well without strong partnership and collaboration with both families and the community,” he said.

Abello said they hope to hire as many local teachers and staff members as possible; at full capacity they would have 20 staff members.

They will be accepting 100 students into their school, admission is lottery based and the application is online.