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Kent State University Child Development Center Celebrates 40 Years

Posted March 11, 2013 | Aubrey Johnson
enter photo description
Children from the Child Development Center at Kent State
University participate in creative activities during the center's
community festival to mark its 40th anniversary.

The Child Development Center at Kent State University hosted a community festival on Saturday, Feb. 23, as part of the yearlong celebration of its 40th anniversary. The celebration showcases the center’s diverse learning community of teachers, students and children.

Kent State students, children, parents and teachers gathered at the center to take part in various cultural activities that were designed to recognize the diverse nature of the school.

Featured activities included making pasta from scratch, a colorful fabric representation, Romanian and Irish dancing, and poetry writing and reading. One room was named the “Saudi Arabia Corner,” where everyone was invited to try traditional “Rogag” bread, as well as a variety of Saudi Arabian desserts, coffees and teas. Those who visited the corner also had the opportunity to see their names written in Arabic.

“This event is exciting because it gives us a chance to celebrate the rich diversity of our school,” says Monica Miller Marsh, Ph.D., executive director of the Child Development Center. “But perhaps more importantly, the community festival reminds us of the many ways our various cultural backgrounds overlap and intersect.”

Marsh says about 150 children attend the Child Development Center, including many international students from Asia, Europe and Saudi Arabia. She says the center is a great resource for students, faculty and staff because of the unique cultural mix and curriculum, which is built on inquiry.

Marsh says the Child Development Center community also reflects collaboration between families and teachers, and the inquiry-oriented curriculum is developed from the interactions between parents and teachers as well.

“When our teachers are crafting a curriculum, they’re listening to what the children are interested in, and the curriculum comes out of that,” she says. “Children here are engaged in serious study and problem solving.”

But the Child Development Center does more than provide a learning environment for the children. The center is a nationally recognized lab school, providing educational experiences for Kent State students, which Marsh notes is equally important for people to understand.

“We have lead teachers and associate teachers in the classroom, we have students and field students from the early childhood program and from other programs that are always working in our school,” says Marsh. “At the same time, we’re always involved in research and creating new knowledge.”

Megan Walker, junior early childhood major, works as a teacher’s assistant and a student teacher at the center. She says everything that she learns in her classes is applied at the school, and commends her mentor teachers.

“They’re all so willing in helping us get to where we want to be in our curriculum and careers by mentoring us through the process of becoming a teacher,” Walker says.

Carly Warnock, a junior early childhood major and student teacher at the center, says the learning that takes place with the children amazes her.

“They form their own ideas and discoveries,” Warnock says. “If they have misconceptions, they discover the correct answer on their own. We just provide the tools for them. It’s a very constructivist view, which means children learn through playing. This is a wonderful place to gain experience.”

Amal Albeshri, a graduate nutrition major from Saudi Arabia, enjoys taking her children to the Child Development Center for the convenience of being close to her. She also appreciates the staff.

“My children love their teachers a lot,” she says. “They are so professional in how they treat the children— everything here is almost perfect for me.”

Albeshri sends her two girls to an Arabic school on weekends so they don’t forget how to speak and write Arabic letters, which can be difficult as they learn English letters and sounds as well.

“I’m trying my best to keep them connected because I don’t want them to have culture shock when I go back to my home country,” says Albeshri.

Diversity, learning and convenience – for both students and staff – are the hallmarks of what the Child Development Center provides – and is proud to celebrate all year long as it reaches this important milestone.

“It’s a totally different experience from what you’re going to get at any other school,” Walker says. “You can see how it works, and when you actually see it in process, you know the students are learning so much and are having so much fun at the same time.”

“I’ve never learned so much anywhere else,” agrees Warnock. “And the experience that I get in the classroom is awesome – it’s amazing.”

Additional events in celebration of the anniversary include a formal dinner/dance fundraiser at the Kent Student Center on April 20 that will raise money for scholarships and tuition assistance for the children of our families in poverty, and a run/walk event in the fall.

Since 1972, the Kent State Child Development Center, a nationally recognized laboratory school, has played a central role in educating and caring for children, professionally preparing teachers and generating research to inform practice. The center is tuition-based and fiscally independent.

For more information about Kent State’s Child Development Center, visit www.kent.edu/ehhs/cdc/index.cfm.