Get to Know JPII

John Paul II Center is as unique as our students.  We are the only Catholic school in Berks County that provides a comprehensive educational program for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Our school-age programming ranges from age three to 21.  While students learn, develop, and boost their confidence throughout their time at John Paul II Center, our adult program is a great way for individuals that are 21+ with learning disabilities to maintain and develop new skills.

At JPII, we do more for each individual.  Educating each student and adult academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually isn’t a process at John Paul II Center, it is an educational plan instilled with care.

Even though John Paul II is incorporated we are still under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Allentown. The Bishop has final approval on all governing matters concerning the school. The diocese also provides financial services and human resource services. Financial support is received through the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

All faiths and religious beliefs are welcome.

Our Mission

In a safe and nurturing Christian environment, John Paul II Center serves children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities by providing diversified programs. We acknowledge the dignity of all learners while challenging them on a daily basis to reach their God-given potential. Our mission is an expression of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life.

John Paul II Center Opens

September 13, 1982

John Paul II Center Opens

John Paul II Center opened its doors to 16 students, in two classrooms, and under the guidance of two full-time special education teachers. The school was located at 650 S. Sixth Street in Reading. Sister Francis Bisland served as the first principal.

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Enrollment Increases

August 22, 1983

Enrollment Increases

Enrollment increased from 16 students to 21. Students became involved in the Special Olympics program. The parents of John Paul II students formed the Boosters, an organization to help share in the financial support of the school.

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Fourth Classroom Opened

August 26, 1985

Fourth Classroom Opened

Enrollment increased to 36 students and a fourth classroom was opened. Liturgy was celebrated each week and some students also received training to serve mass.

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Students with Multi-Disabilities Increase

July 7, 1986

Students with Multi-Disabilities Increase

This year saw an increase in students with multiple disabilities. With classrooms on the second floor of the building, the need for an elevator became imminent, as Sister Bisland would carry each student up the stairs each day. Permission was granted by the Diocese of Allentown to begin preparation for…

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With Help From the Community…

June 8, 1987

Bishop Thomas Welsh broke ground for the new elevator in June 1987. Contributions from the Forward with Christ Campaign, local businesses, and private citizens helped to fund the project.

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With Elevator Complete, New Programs Begin

January 17, 1988

With Elevator Complete, New Programs Begin

On January 17, 1988 the new elevator was dedicated with Mass celebrated by Bishop Welsh. Speech Therapy was offered three days a week and a swimming program was added. Some students also participated in half-day vocational-technical training.

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Our First Day of Preschool

August 26, 1996

Our First Day of Preschool

A preschool program was added to accommodate children ages 3 to 5.

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A More Accommodating Location

August 25, 1997

A More Accommodating Location

School enrollment was down to a total of 13 students and John Paul II Center was in danger of closing its doors. The decision was made to move to a new facility that was more accommodating at 200 Reading Avenue in West Reading.

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Through Generosity…

September 2, 1997

Through Generosity…

A substantial grant was received from Sovereign Bank and used to purchase new computers for the school.

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OT Please!

August 24, 1998

OT Please!

The Occupational Therapy program began.

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Continuously Putting Heart into it!

August 27, 2001

Continuously Putting Heart into it!

John Paul II Center experienced an increase in enrollment and was the recipient of the Diocesan School Marketing Award. The need for a larger school became apparent.

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A Place to Call Home

March 18, 2002

A Place to Call Home

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new school at 1092 Welsh Road in Shillington was held.

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Move-in Day

September 23, 2002

Move-in Day

After beginning the school year in the Fr. Lyons Room of St. John Baptist de la Salle parish, students were able to move into the new school building. The New Horizons adult day program began.

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A Mass of Dedication

November 19, 2002

Bishop Edward Cullen celebrated a Mass of dedication for the new facility.

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Ronald’s Playground

October 8, 2009

Ronald’s Playground

Thanks to a grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities, we were able to purchase a wonderful playground for the students.  It has endured a lot of use over the years!

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30th Anniversary

December 10, 2012

On December 10, 2012, we celebrated our 30 year anniversary.  A special Mass was held by Most Reverend John O. Barres.

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Expanding our Fleet

October 15, 2015

Expanding our Fleet

With John Paul II Center growing and our Adult Program expanding, the need for wheel chair vans was evident. So, during our 2015 Legacy Gala, we raised the money necessary for two brand-new wheelchair vans. These vans made it possible for us to take more individuals into the community for…

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Capital Campaign Kickoff

April 21, 2016

Capital Campaign Kickoff

More space was a huge need, so we decided to run a capital campaign to raise the funds necessary for an addition/renovation project, which broke ground around April 1 of 2016. On April 21, 2016, we held a Reaching for More Capital Campaign Kickoff event.

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Expansion Dedication Mass

December 16, 2016

Expansion Dedication Mass

With our Reaching for More Capital Campaign closing out with a total of $3,182,343 in donations and our expansion reaching completion in November, Bishop Barres joined us for a Mass of Dedication. After Mass and followed by a small congregation of individuals, he then proceeded to bless the entire school….

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Board of Directors

Kathleen Nevel, PhD Chairman, Adjunct Faculty Alvernia University
W. Bradford White, Jr.Vice Chairman, Senior VP Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley
Theodore Bassano – Treasurer, Vice President Emeritus, RACC
Ginny Close – Secretary, Community Volunteer
Anthony DeMarco – VP Institutional Advancement, Alvernia University
John Dever – President, Egan Signs
Virginia Frederick Dodge – Executive Producer, VA Productions, Inc.
Michael A. Duff – Senior VP, Government Relations & Chief Compliance
Officer, Penske
The Honorable Eleni Dimitriou Geishauser – Berks County Judge
Michael Herr – Managing Director, Tompkins Insurance
Daniel Langdon – CEO, East Penn Manufacturing Co, Inc.
Father Keith Mathur – Sacred Heart Church
Gretchen Naso – Principal, Reinsel Kuntz Lesher, LLP

Dr. Vincent Moffitt – Pediatric Hospitalist, Reading Health System
Kathleen O’Brien Ellis, PhD
– Secondary Special Education Teacher, Twin Valley School District
Craig Perrotty – Sr. VP Fixed Income Sales, Vining Sparks IBG
Craig Poole – General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton
Eric Savage – President, Freedom Auto Group
Noreen Sobottka – Vice President, Wells Fargo Bank NA
Chester Winters – Director of Information Technology, RACC

Mary Adams – Principal
Becky Burton – Director of Advancement
Brooke Cortese Tesche, EdD. – Deputy Superintendent, Diocese of Allentown
Michael Mizak – Business Manager
Isaac Nawa – Berks Catholic High School Student Representative