Rena Goldman Popkin, (“Renee”), was born in New Castle, PA. She earned both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at the Pennsylvania State University, where she met her future husband, Terry Popkin.
Her career as a Third Grade teacher in began in New Castle in 1962. In 1964, Renee and Terry were married and Renee taught Kindergarten in State College while they both worked on advanced degrees. Renee also taught second Grade until Terry was offered a research position at NIH. In March of 1971, their first child, Erika, was in need of a nursery school. Renee chose to be near her daughter and accepted the position as the first Teacher and, later that year, as Director of a new nursery school, the Silver Spring Learning Center.
In 1978, Renee founded The Children’s Learning Center (CLC). CLC has grown steadily over the last 34 years, from its beginnings with 62 children to a population of, once, nearly 300 students which included a progressive Elementary School. CLC has a renowned Nursery School program that includes infant and toddler classes with an accompanying child care program.
Renee started CLC to create an environment where children would “learn through play”. She believes all children need a learning environment that stimulates their imaginations, instills confidence and promotes self-esteem. In fact, her basic belief is that ALL children have special needs! For all these years, Renee has dedicated herself to the education of a diverse population of children in need; she is hailed in her community for the services of her many mitzvah’s. In 2000, Renee was the recipient of the Sulam ward for her service and education of children with special needs. Renee has proudly opened the doors of CLC to special needs children and helps to make certain that no child is ever denied a chance for success because of financial difficulties.
Beyond her professional life, Renee’s joy has been her dedication to a loving family. She and Terry raised three beautiful daughters: Erika Lyn, Adria Jill and Ronna Abbe. She is a doting grandmother (Bubbe) to Bailey Ellyne, Amber Marie and Ari Kai, to Renee, “family” is paramount. In addition, Renee is an avid collector of Swarovski crystal, a devout Redskins fan, and an experienced world traveler.
Renee is a 33-year survivor of three life-threatening battles with breast and ovarian cancers. Her cure is a real life miracle. She has served as a counselor to, and continuously encouraged, others who have fought similar battles. Her passion for life, for family, and for education and her limitless generosity and unyielding creative spirit are an inspiration to all who know her.
The atmosphere of the CLC ‘family’ is something that no one can place a price on. It provides opportunities, knowledge, advancement, trust, safety, and a sense of equality. It is a place where children cry when they leave, not when they arrive. Now in its 35th year, CLC has thousands of graduates. We hope and trust they will remember their wonderful experiences while a part of the CLC ‘family’.