In the 1960s
Ellen Happ Leffever Thomas worked as a school teacher in the Central Bucks School Districts and Archdiocese of Philadelphia. While working in various schools ranging from Titus Elementary School to Our Lady Mt. Carmel School, she recognized the need for quality child care (not just babysitting) to accommodate the growing work force of two income families. In the 1960's, a working mother's only options were Nursery Schools that only offered 2 or 3 days a week from 9-11am. She understood as a working parent herself, that 2 or 3 hours, a few days a week wouldn't allow for two full time working parents.
To fulfill this need, Ellen went to the Department of Education to apply for certification to create The Curiosity Shoppe. In 1963, the Curiosity Shoppe became officially licensed in its original location on Dogwood Lane, Doylestown, PA. The school started as a small pre-school in her home. It began with 4 teachers, 1 teacher aide, 40 children, 4 rooms, and a green house on 3 wooded acres.
Recently widowed, Ellen was offered a position as an Adjunct Professor at Lehigh University. She was faced with the decision to close her school to accept a collegiate position or to continue the small, private pre-school. While considering her options, a book called The Toddler Center arrived in the mail. Deciding this was the answer to her prayers, she committed herself, not only to keeping the school, but expanding its programs to create a child care center for children under age 3 called the Toddler Center. In her research, she was offered a facility to possibly rent for the expansion.
Ellen met William Thomas and the two became friends first and business partners second. The Toddler Center and Curiosity Shoppe was up and running at two different locations. They began to search for a larger property to house both businesses, and in 1980, our current location on Landisville Road fit the bill. The original property included 5 acres around the farmhouse and barn. The new facility opened that year with an enrollment of 111 students.
In the summer of 1981 Camp Curiosity came in to being offering a fun and educational experience for ages 7 through 17. The younger ages already had the benefit of year-round activities and learning.
Curiosity is still a family owned and run business. Ellen and William Thomas are still very involved in the school.
When Ellen Thomas is not planning lessons for the summer camp program areas, she participating on educational boards to discuss the future of education in Bucks County.
William Thomas, when he is not working around the campus providing upkeep for our farm, you will see him on the polo field in Tinicum as a player and the Former President of the Tinicum Polo Club.
In 2006, Ellen and William's son, Jeremiah Thomas, took a Director position of Camp Curiosity while teaching at a local middle school. He completed his Master's Degree in 2011 for Educational Administration and accepted the long-term position of Director and Head of School for Curiosity Shoppe & Toddler Center.
In 2007, Jeremiah met wife, Caitlin Farley, while she was working as a sports instructor at the camp. They were married in December 2009. Since 2012, Caitlin completed a Master's in Early Childhood Education with specialization in Leadership and Administration. She currently co-directs the school and summer camp programs with Jeremiah. They now have two children, Evelyn and William.
Jeremiah and Caitlin are honored to have the opportunity to continue the leadership of such a special place for young children to develop and grow. It is their goal to provide an educational environment for children to learn in so many positive ways that will help shape the strong men and women they will become!