NHTI, Boys & Girls Clubs
Address Community Needs Together
The Mary Stuart Gile Early Learning Center and laboratory school, formerly known as the Child and Family Development Center (CFDC), on the campus of NHTI – Concord’s Community College is an inspiring model of successful community collaboration. The center, now managed by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central NH, serves the community’s childcare needs as well as NHTI’s students’ requirements of observing and practicing as part of the Child and Family Studies and Nursing programs.
“One year ago, NHTI’s CFDC - our early childhood studies laboratory school - was in an incredibly challenging place financially,” said Diana Menard, NHTI’s department chair and professor in Child and Family Studies. “We were fortunate to have several organizations in our community recognize the added value that the center and laboratory school provide to our early childhood education students, the greater Concord community, and the early childhood field in general.”
“Being able to continue to provide our students with a strong lab experience and the community with a space for superb childcare was an important goal for NHTI; having the BGCCNH step in to serve both these needs became an exceptional partnership for which I am incredibly grateful,” shared Dr. Mullin-Sawicki, President of NHTI.
This collaboration addresses the workforce needs for childcare and early childhood educators, and relieves NHTI of a serious financial burden. Chris Emond, executive director of the BGCCNH, recognizes the high quality that NHTI brings to the early childhood education field. He is committed to ensuring that the philosophy and teaching practices remain in place. Additionally, both NHTI and the Boys & Girls Clubs are committed to keeping the academic affiliation agreement with the Child and Family Studies programs in place. This philosophical and programmatic alignment, in addition to their shared missions to serve the community, make the partnership a win-win for the greater Concord community.
“We are proud to work with NHTI,” said Emond. “The goal of taking this on was to continue the fine tradition of excellence that NHTI’s Child and Family Development Center had built during its first 20 years in existence. The preservation of the lab school was also a high priority.”
Both NHTI and the BGCCNH view this collaboration as a model for what community is all about - resource sharing – and are delighted to be working together in this capacity. The center is fully enrolled with a burgeoning waitlist; this highlights the ongoing critical need for quality childcare. Community members, students, and families can trust that all best practices in early childhood education, care, and development continue to serve the greater Concord community with high-quality childcare in a lab school befitting the legacy of Mary Stuart Gile on the campus of NHTI.
“As a former staff member of the CFDC, I feel [the BGCCNH] really stood up to meet this challenge of maintaining the CFDC’s mission and vision,” said Ewing. “I think what helped encourage previous staff members to come back was Chris’s commitment to keeping the program’s philosophy and mission in place. To take on a new program in the middle of a pandemic was an immense proposition, but [the BGCCNH] really met the moment and have provided an immense amount of support and resources that will see our staff and the families we serve through this pandemic and beyond. I am excited about what the future holds for this partnership.”
The center has retained one veteran teaching staff member in each of its classrooms, and approximately 85% of the staff are NHTI alumni. Ross Ewing, himself an NHTI alum, continues to be the center’s director and works with a lead mentor teacher in the administration of the center as well as sharing in teaching responsibilities within the classrooms. Ewing also follows accreditation standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). After one full year of operation under the umbrella of the Boys & Girls Clubs, the center is already preparing for submission to NAEYC for full accreditation.
“The staff at the former CFDC is what set the school apart from others in the area,” said Sara Ziegra, parent of child who attends the center. “Sending our son back to the school on the NHTI campus was contingent upon teachers returning. The Boys & Girls Clubs realized how special these educators are and brought back many familiar faces. We are so happy knowing our son gets to play, learn, and grow under the care of these exceptional educators.”
Another parent, Megan Kilar, seconded that sentiment. “We received the highest quality of care from the former CFDC. The Boys & Girls Club stepped in during a difficult time and allowed the center to continue with its high standard of care for children. My son returned to the center as a pre-K student and my daughter is currently in the toddler room. I have been incredibly pleased with the staff that was rehired and the new staff that have come in. We appreciate the staff, who are all hardworking and truly care about our children.”
The late Mary Stuart Gile, the founding mother of the Early Childhood program at NHTI and the CFDC, championed student learning by practice in a laboratory school where they could be observed and mentored in tandem with the theory and best practices learned through their academic studies. To honor her memory, her contributions to and vision for early childhood education, the center has been renamed the Mary Stuart Gile Early Learning Center. On October 15, 2021, the one-year anniversary of her passing, the BGCCNH plan to make the naming official with the unveiling of a new sign at a public ceremony on the NHTI campus with Gile’s family in attendance.
To learn more about the Early Childhood Education program, additional programs within the Child and Family Studies department, or the academic affiliation of the laboratory school, contact Diana Menard at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about the Mary Stuart Gile Early Learning Center and to inquire about enrollment, contact Ross Ewing at email@example.com or 603-410-5184.
NHTI – Concord’s Community College
NHTI is a dynamic public institution of higher learning that provides accessible, rigorous education for students, businesses, and the community. We create pathways for lifelong learning, career advancement, and civic engagement, offering 80+ academic programs to 4,600+ students annually. NHTI is a member of the Community College System of New Hampshire and since 1969 has been accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, a nongovernmental, nationally recognized accrediting agency. Press Contact Amy Proctor | 603-230-4001 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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