NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The first thing that stands out about the SFA Early Childhood Research Center is "It is the biggest school I have ever seen," Lauren Griffith, SFA Charter School graduate said. The building may be somewhat intimidating with its tall pillars, but teachers inside promise to make students feel right at home. They showed how at an open house on Sunday that attracted hundreds of visitors.
The space houses three programs. There's the Early Childhood Lab where infants to toddlers' play provide lessons for teachers. "We will be able to provide training for other daycare facilities," Melissa McCormack, infant teacher said. For 13 years she's been rocking babies in a very small room, but now she now has a play center and rooms with heated floors for cold, rainy days.
Down the hall is the Charter School, the only one in the state operating in conjunction with educator-preparation programs. It's fully received the support of generous East Texans. "Mr. James Perkins of Tyler has funded a research professorship this past year," Dr. Baker Patillo, SFA President shared. The collaboration from the local to the federal level is supporting future research efforts.
Studies are really already underway in the center's third area of Elementary Education. "We want to do some research to affirm what we're doing to disseminate the information," Dr. Janice Patillo, Elementary Education Chairwoman explained.
SFA promotes constructivist education. That's center based instruction which caters to each child's individual talents. Rooms are furnished with a homey feel, complete with couches and natural lighting. It promotes interaction among children and allows them to progress at a pace that's right for them.
"It is a great day just to see it finished and to see what the future holds," said Ruben Rodriguez, whose two children will be attending the school.
First day of school is August 14th for the SFA Charter School and the Early Childhood Lab. A total of 300 children will be enrolled in the two education programs. More than 2,000 SFA students will use the facility for educational purposes. School districts are already contacting the program to join in on the research.