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Bright & Early Discoveries in Riverhead plans eastward expansion

When Karyn Cooper, chief operating officer and universal pre-K coordinator at Bright and Early Discoveries in Riverhead, noticed that the building at 31095 Main Road in Cutchogue was for rent, she immediately thought it would be perfect for a learning center on the North Fork.

“It’s a really pretty building and it always had a light and a glow to it for me, and I said, ‘That’s a day care,’ ” Ms. Cooper said.

When business founder Jennifer LaMaina shared that she was actively looking for a place to expand onto the North Fork, Ms. Cooper knew she’d already found the ideal place. Their partnership will allow for the organization’s expansion into Cutchogue.

Bright and Early Discoveries was founded in 2016 and currently has four locations: The center on Northville Turnpike, a Main Street location, in-home group family daycares on Harrison Avenue and Elton Street. A fifth location will opening in Yaphank soon.

The learning center’s website says it “provides an enriched learning environment” for those enrolled. The curriculum, according to the site, is “loving and structured” and “helps keep students eager to learn, create and grow together.” It says the facilities are equipped with “indoor and outdoor play and learning areas designed to jumpstart children’s imagination, team building ability and gross motor skill.”

Plans for the expansion are in the early stages, but the goal is to have the new location ready to open in January 2023. The Cutchogue building, a former nursery school, it is pretty much set up for what they’ll need, according to Ms. Cooper, but will undergo some minor renovations. The new space, she said, will be able to accommodate up to 55 students between the ages of 6 weeks and 4 years. 

Ms. LaMaina said they already know the Cutchogue location will offer programing that’s a little bit different.

“This year we started including special [programs] like language,”she said. “We have a French teacher, we have baking classes, so we will incorporate that into our Cutchogue program.” 

Ms. Cooper added that programing will highlight the best of the region and focus on life on the North Fork.

“So definitely more enrichment classes, talking more about the farming aspect, marine life,” she said. “It’s all about boating out here and farm life.”

Ms. LaMaina is a licensed master social worker and Ms. Cooper has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s in special education and literacy.

Bright and Early Discoveries has served over 200 families since 2016 and has about 32 current employees and 60 to 80 active students between the two Riverhead locations. It also offers before and after school care and summer camp for children up to age 12. They hope to offer before and after school care in Cutchogue as well, as needed in the community. 

Ms. LaMaina said that although some money had already been set aside for growth, they will seek a Small Business Administration loan to help fund the expansion. 

A photo posted on social media last week alerted the community to plans for the new location, and has sparked excitement about the expansion.

“The support already on the North Fork, since that one little picture went on social media, we’ve gotten amazing feedback already from the community,” Ms. Cooper said. “So I know that they are very excited to have us.”