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Early Childhood Education, Research, and Teacher Education on the Same Site - A University Children's Village



Las Cruces, May 2012 - The turtles, bobcats and roadrunners darting about the southeast end of the New Mexico State University campus are not desert wildlife, but children of various age groups who make up the early childhood classes at Myrna's Children's Village.

While the village provides childcare and education for little ones, the preschoolers aren't the only people who are engaged in learning there.

The Children's Village serves as a venue where undergraduate and graduate students participate in field experiences, practicum experiences and student teaching. It is a place where faculty can conduct research and study things like speech and language progression, developmental stages and counselling and educational psychology in young children. Another aspect of the Children's Village few other preschool programmes can boast is having five master-level teachers who are encouraged to conduct research.

This aspect of higher learning and research is something professors who work at Myrna's Children's Village hope to expand.

"We don't only work with students in the College of Education," said Melissa Jozwiak, who teaches curriculum and instruction for NMSU's College of Education. "We're about to work with some nursing students who are interested in helping our children feel more comfortable in medical settings. We have a lot of partnerships across the university that we would like to continue to grow."

Jozwiak said there are opportunities for other departments to collaborate with the Children's Village.

"Not only is there a chance for students to gain practical experience here, but they have an opportunity to really get to know the children and families that make up this community," Jozwiak said.

Nancy Baptiste, early childhood education professor, said that through the years the community involvement and services available at Myrna's have grown.

"We also are able to involve the greater community with our family interaction days," Baptiste said. "We've had visitors like the police department and their dogs, the fire department has brought their equipment, we've had the volleyball team, the rodeo club, Gym Magic and even a zumba class. It's a special day for families, children and teachers to interact with appropriate activities."

The various programmes at the village serve children from six weeks old to 5 years old and while some of the programmes are free for low-income families, others have fees that use a sliding scale. Some of the programmes are federally or state funded, while others have supplemental funding that comes from the Associated Students of NMSU.

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