Clifton Park company creates study space for employees' remote learners

Kumi Tucker
Updated: January 06, 2021 08:45 PM
Created: January 06, 2021 08:38 PM

CLIFTON PARK -- Next to MJ Engineering and Land Surveying in Clifton Park is what's come to be known affectionately as MJ Academy.

"It's fun and comforting, basically, because I also know I have my mom like over there if I do need her," said 11-year-old Lyndsey Waldruff. 

Recognizing that remote learning can be hard on families, company president Michael Panichelli leased the space next to his company offices so, as employees work, their children can study next door.

The doors to this space opened to students in September.

"Oh, it's great being able to have our kids come in and not be worried about what they're doing at home, having them in an environment that's safe, and working right next door to him," said MJ Engineering Principal Chris Dooley.

Dooley's son Justin is a seventh grader at Shen.

He's decorated his office space and says he likes coming here for remote learning.

"Because I have friends here, and I get to hang out with people and it's a lot easier.  It's quieter," said Justin.

This is not a daycare. Students have to be able to work independently. 

Parents check in from time to time. "MJ Academy" is free to employees.

Ethan, a sixth grader, is engrossed in his studies.

Lyndsey is a student at Ballston Spa, which is hybrid, but went fully remote this week.

"It's been a blessing to know that I can still come to work and do what I need to do, and she can come here and log in and do what she needs to do and not worry about being home and not having access to something," said Lyndsey's mother, Debbie Waldruff, who is MJ Engineering Director of Human Resources.

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