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Cobble Hill Preschool Hunts New Home After Lightning Strike

COBBLE HILL — A neighborhood preschool is looking for a new home after being stranded last year following a lightning strike on the Cobble Hill church where it was housed.

The pre-K, Linden Tree Preschool, had been operating out of Christ Church, located at 326 Clinton St., for nine years when lightning struck the church’s steeple, damaging the building and killing a 61-year-old state prosecutor in July 2012, causing the building to be vacated.

The private preschool, serving 85 families in Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and surrounding neighborhoods, is looking for a 3,000-square-foot space that can house its 83 students, seven teachers and part-time staff, said Susan Kuhlmann, who has been principal of the school for seven years.

If they were able to find a larger space, she said they would consider expanding the school to include the growing number of children who apply each year.

After the lightning strike, the entire building was shut down but Christ Church told the preschool they would be able to resume in a matter of weeks, Kuhlmann said. Months passed, however, with no sign of returning to their old space.

The school has been temporarily operating out of St. Stephen’s Church in Carroll Gardens, but they are now looking for a new, permanent home.

Linden Tree Preschool had hoped Christ Church, who helped start the school in 2004, would continue the partnership and assist in finding a new location.

“They informed us that was not something they were interested in,” Kuhlmann said.

In January 2013, Christ Church officially told parents and school employees that the school would close in June. They also could no longer use the “Linden Tree” name.

Christ Church, Cobble Hill and the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which includes the Brooklyn church, did not respond for comment.

Taking matters into their own hands, Kuhlmann and Jennifer DeLuna, her colleague at the school, formed their own LLC. The school, now called “Building Bridges,” will only change in name yet continue its current mission, classes and curriculum, Kuhlmann said.

The preschool is split into a classroom for 2 year olds, one for 3 year olds, and a pre-K for 4 and 5 year olds. The school uses a combination of teaching methods and encourages students to be “inquisitive,” Kuhlmann said.

While the school was created by Christ Church, religious education was not part of the curriculum, she said.

At Christ Church, the school had three classrooms that were each about 550 square feet and an indoor and outdoor play area.

Kuhlmann would like the school to have its own outdoor space, but a nearby park would be sufficient for its open-air activities.

“Linden Tree Preschool's academic program balances basic skills and critical thinking with collaborative learning and interdisciplinary study,” according to its website.

“A strong and coherent program enables students to become lifelong learners who are confident, competent, and intellectually curious.”

For information on locations or the preschool, contact Susan Kuhlmann (susan@lindentreepreschool.com) and Jennifer DeLuna (jennifer@lindentreepreschool.com).