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August 31, 2007

ULM to open doors of new, innovative facility to expand student learning

A university fixture since the late 1940s and the first licensed college laboratory school in the state, the University of Louisiana at Monroe Child Development Center, formerly located at 905 Filhiol Ave., will open in its new location at 702 Cole Ave. on Sept. 4.

The center's primary purpose is as a clinical lab for family and consumer science majors. Equally important, the center provides support to ULM's faculty, staff, students, and alumni families, and when space permits, the center also provides childcare for community members.

The center provides invaluable hands-on experience for ULM students, said Emily Williamson, center director. "We're a laboratory, so we're a little more educationally focused than your typical child care facility," she said. "Our students learn to become teachers and administrators. Typically, our majors go into various related career fields, whether they teach at Headstarts, assist in public schools, take social services positions or operate their own child development centers."

The program has expanded the ages that it cares for, and in some cases, the hours of operation. Now, there is an infant class, a toddler class, a pre-K 3, and a pre-K 4 opportunity. "In the past, the last two had been combined into a multiage class, but we've been able to separate them," Williamson said.

The new building is much larger and designed specifically for a care facility, allowing for 40 children instead of the previous limit of 15. This one will be camera-monitored, provide more privacy for breastfeeding mothers, and offer observation areas for each classroom, where parents will be able to visit any time to watch their child without disturbing the current activity. The center also has a teacher resource room for staff, where they will have access to an on-site professional library, of particular assistance when they prepare their lesson plans.

Future plans call for a complete playground renovation, with one designed specificaly for each age range.

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