Recent Gifts Champion TC's Rita Gold Early Childhood Education Center

At the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center, the preschoolers have been busy building a castle. At daily morning meetings, teachers and students come to a consensus about the next steps for the grand structure forming in the classroom loft. One child suggested adding a moat and a waterfall. Would that be viable? After hearing how another child’s home had been damaged by flooding, the class decided against the water features.

What drives the process is a question that seems simple on the surface: What is a castle to these children?

“The teachers are talking with the children, planning with them, and together they are acting on those plans,” says Patrice Nichols, the onsite associate director. “By their responses, they’re asking children to more deeply explore what that experience is.”

In the “emergent” curriculum that is at the heart of this innovative center, play leads to exploration, discovery and learning. Founded in 1982, the center serves infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families while preparing TC students for careers in early childhood education. A hub of research for TC faculty and students, the center also provides guided observations to early childhood professionals from around the world.

“The work of the center is fully embedded in TC’s academic programs in early childhood education and other related fields represented at the college,” says Susan Recchia, the center’s faculty director. “Each aspect of our mission—service, professional preparation, research and outreach—reflects our commitment to further understanding the dynamic and the powerful roles shared by young children, families, teachers, caregivers, and administrators in creating a supportive learning community.”  

Thanks to a series of generous gifts, including two endowed scholarship funds, the center continues to flourish in its mission to promote high-quality childcare and education:  

  • Support from the Gloria and Hilliard Farber Foundation through the Leslie R. Williams Memorial Scholarship provides need-based scholarships that enable the center to serve a wider range of families and continue its commitment to a diverse community.
  • A recent gift from the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation will enhance the space and program to deepen and expand the Center’s education, research and training for children and graduate students alike. The gift will be further leveraged through a Trustee Challenge for Capital Projects that was announced in October 2013 by former TC Trustee, Laurie M. Tisch.
  • The Rita Gold Scholarship Fund provides support for graduate student fellows who explore issues of research and practice and who integrate the arts and music into the program.
  • A generous bequest by the late Barbara Jean (“B.J.”) Lewis (MA ’56), a kindergarten teacher in California, enabled the Rita Gold staff to further their own training by participating in intensive professional development.

“These gifts have allowed the center’s mission to unfold in new and more comprehensive ways,” Nichols says. “Children and families reap the benefits of enriched curriculum, and graduate students develop scholarly skills in observation and collaborative research that continues to inform the center’s practices. And scholarship support enables children to enroll at Rita Gold who would not otherwise have the financial means to do so.”

Meanwhile, back at the castle, plans continue to evolve. For Valentine’s Day, the preschoolers gave each other candy grams. This prompted a discussion about where mail should be delivered at the castle. Should the door have a mail slot?

“The design adapts for what’s going on in the room at that time,” Nichols says. “The teachers involve the children in the process as the concept of this castle-home unfolds. Each week it’s being created.”  

Give to the Leslie R. Williams Memorial Scholarship to enable children to attend the Rita Gold Center who would not otherwise have the financial means to do so.

Give to the Rita Gold Scholarship Fund to support TC students in early childhood education.

Mariko Thompson Beck

Published Friday, May. 6, 2016

Recent Gifts Champion TC's Rita Gold Early Childhood Education Center

At the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center, the preschoolers have been busy building a castle. At daily morning meetings, teachers and students come to a consensus about the next steps for the grand structure forming in the classroom loft. One child suggested adding a moat and a waterfall. Would that be viable? After hearing how another child’s home had been damaged by flooding, the class decided against the water features.

What drives the process is a question that seems simple on the surface: What is a castle to these children?

“The teachers are talking with the children, planning with them, and together they are acting on those plans,” says Patrice Nichols, the onsite associate director. “By their responses, they’re asking children to more deeply explore what that experience is.”

In the “emergent” curriculum that is at the heart of this innovative center, play leads to exploration, discovery and learning. Founded in 1982, the center serves infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families while preparing TC students for careers in early childhood education. A hub of research for TC faculty and students, the center also provides guided observations to early childhood professionals from around the world.

“The work of the center is fully embedded in TC’s academic programs in early childhood education and other related fields represented at the college,” says Susan Recchia, the center’s faculty director. “Each aspect of our mission—service, professional preparation, research and outreach—reflects our commitment to further understanding the dynamic and the powerful roles shared by young children, families, teachers, caregivers, and administrators in creating a supportive learning community.”  

Thanks to a series of generous gifts, including two endowed scholarship funds, the center continues to flourish in its mission to promote high-quality childcare and education:  

  • Support from the Gloria and Hilliard Farber Foundation through the Leslie R. Williams Memorial Scholarship provides need-based scholarships that enable the center to serve a wider range of families and continue its commitment to a diverse community.
  • A recent gift from the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation will enhance the space and program to deepen and expand the Center’s education, research and training for children and graduate students alike. The gift will be further leveraged through a Trustee Challenge for Capital Projects that was announced in October 2013 by former TC Trustee, Laurie M. Tisch.
  • The Rita Gold Scholarship Fund provides support for graduate student fellows who explore issues of research and practice and who integrate the arts and music into the program.
  • A generous bequest by the late Barbara Jean (“B.J.”) Lewis (MA ’56), a kindergarten teacher in California, enabled the Rita Gold staff to further their own training by participating in intensive professional development.

“These gifts have allowed the center’s mission to unfold in new and more comprehensive ways,” Nichols says. “Children and families reap the benefits of enriched curriculum, and graduate students develop scholarly skills in observation and collaborative research that continues to inform the center’s practices. And scholarship support enables children to enroll at Rita Gold who would not otherwise have the financial means to do so.”

Meanwhile, back at the castle, plans continue to evolve. For Valentine’s Day, the preschoolers gave each other candy grams. This prompted a discussion about where mail should be delivered at the castle. Should the door have a mail slot?

“The design adapts for what’s going on in the room at that time,” Nichols says. “The teachers involve the children in the process as the concept of this castle-home unfolds. Each week it’s being created.”  

Give to the Leslie R. Williams Memorial Scholarship to enable children to attend the Rita Gold Center who would not otherwise have the financial means to do so.

Give to the Rita Gold Scholarship Fund to support TC students in early childhood education.

Mariko Thompson Beck

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