Just to the left of the Student Recreation Center is a building of students of a different kind—preschoolers.
The fenced building and the fenced-off playground beside it are actually home to the Texas State Child Development Center, where students and Bobcat babies alike can go to learn.
The center offers a safe place for students, faculty and members of the community to leave their children while they go to work and attend classes. It focuses on developmental, play-based experiences for children enrolled and works to create a nurturing environment which fosters trust, creativity and acceptance. There are approximately 85 children currently enrolled in the program.
“We strive to serve as a model of a quality childcare program for the community,” said June Blades-Wiese, director of the Child Development Center.
The center has succeeded in its goal by recently receiving reaccreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children—the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals.
“This is a stamp of quality on our program and it assures parents that their children are receiving an excellent learning experience,” Blades-Wiese said.
The children enrolled in the program range from 6 weeks old to 5 years old and are divided into different classes. Each class is named after a flower. The two oldest classes (the Bluebonnets and the Tiger Lilies) are given a preschool education following the Texas Education Agency School Readiness guidelines.
University students play an important part in the success of the center. There are approximately 35 to 50 student employees at the center working as teaching assistants. These student interns are essential because without them it would be difficult for the center to maintain ratios required to properly care for the children. Students help in other ways to keep the center operating smoothly.
“It gives me the opportunity to experience what I may be doing in the future, and I get to help serve parents,” said Greer Rivera, who graduated in December with a degree in family and child development.
Some of those employed at the center are majoring in family and consumer science, but students of all majors are welcome. Some nutrition students work as interns in the kitchen, cooking and learning how to provide proper meals for children. Lily Lowder, political science freshman, works with Rivera to help run the front desk.
“Being a receptionist helps me gain a lot of skills necessary for a future job, and it gives me an opportunity to do homework,” said Lowder.
Hundreds of students come to the center for classes as well. Some come to watch and observe. This process gives students the opportunity to connect what they learn in the classroom with real life experience.
“It’s a great work environment,” said LeAnn Kelly, program coordinator. “I have fun every day I come to work.”
Kelly knows firsthand how the center benefits not only parents and students but the children as well.
“My son went through the program, and I have seen how much it has given him. I can see how he has grown and learned from that experience,” Kelly said.