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Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning Begins Construction on Third Early Childhood Education Center

Today, Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS), a subsidiary of Milton Hershey School (MHS), hosted the official groundbreaking ceremony for its third Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC)–CHS Middletown. The planned 48,692-square-foot building will be located at the corner of Oberlin and Fulling Mill Roads in Lower Swatara Township and is expected to open in 2025.

CHS Middletown is part of a $350 million initiative to initially develop six ECECs in Pennsylvania designed to serve children from six weeks to age 5 from under-resourced and over-burdened backgrounds, with all costs covered for qualifying families. The Middletown location will provide early childhood education and care to 150 local children. The non-residential facility will operate year-round and be open on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“For more than 114 years, Milton and Catherine Hershey’s generosity has enabled thousands of children to reach their fullest potential,” said MHS and CHS President Pete Gurt. “Today’s event celebrates our opportunity to expand on their legacy and work toward impacting the lives of even more children while supporting their families and ultimately strengthening the Middletown and surrounding community.”

The event included a seed planting ceremony honoring Catherine Hershey’s love for flowers and symbolizing the foundation CHS will provide to help children thrive. Ceremony participants included Dr. Chelton Hunter, Superintendent of Middletown Area School District; Dr. Mick Iskric Jr., Superintendent of Steelton-Highspire School District; George Hartwick III, Dauphin County Commissioner; and Jon Wilt, President of the Lower Swatara Township Board of Commissioners.

“CHS looks forward to collaborating with our Middletown community partners as we work toward our shared goals,” said CHS Executive Director Senate Alexander. “Together, we can address the kindergarten-readiness gap between low-income and higher-income children, setting children up for long-term success in the classroom and beyond.”

The CHS program is centered around a play-based curriculum to enhance children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development and supports families through a family success (two-generational) approach. To deliver the CHS program, CHS Middletown will feature 12 classrooms, an Innovation Studio, active movement spaces, a STEM Garden, and a Family Success Center, where families can be connected to tools and resources to support their children in the classroom and at home. Additionally, CHS will offer services on-site to enrolled children with all costs covered, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy; physical and mental health services; meals, transportation, and personal items.

CHS Middletown will be led by Jessica Knaub as Center Director. She brings more than 20 years of experience in early childhood education to the program. Currently, CHS Middletown is hiring for leadership, scholastic, and family success roles. Upon hire, individuals will participate in a nearly year-long professional development program in preparation for the ECEC’s opening next year. For more details about career opportunities and admissions processes or to learn more about the other CHS locations (Hershey, which opened in 2023; Harrisburg, opening in 2024; and Lancaster City, New Danville, and Elizabethtown, opening beginning in 2026), visit

Learn More about Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.