State and local officials gathered today at West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s main campus for the grand opening of the college’s new Center for Early Learning. The ribbon cutting ceremony took place at 10 a.m. to celebrate the new facility. The college anticipates that the center will officially be in operation by the fall 2013 semester.
Speakers at the event included WVU Parkersburg President Dr. Marie Foster Gnage and Board of Governors Chair Jamie Six, West Virginia Community and Technical College System Chancellor James Skidmore, West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette.
The $1 million, 5,000 square-foot facility replaces the college’s one-room children’s center located inside the main building on campus. The Center for Early Learning will focus on the arts, literacy, culture and technology to teach young children beyond the traditional classroom environment. It will host the college’s early learning program for children from ages 13 months to 6 years old and also serve as a lab school for the early childhood education program.
“This new center opens the door to many valuable, hands-on educational experiences for our early childhood students,” said Gnage. “But it also provides extended learning opportunities for the children, which will ultimately have a positive impact on our community.”
The center’s larger capacity and additional rooms will allow caregivers to separate children by age group for different activities. It will also allow the center to begin accepting up to 45 children per semester – nearly triple the number of children the center currently accepts. Previously, it was only certified to provide care to 24 children at a time. However, with 2-year-olds on campus, the center could only have 16 children at a time in the one room.
Childcare will be available to both WVU Parkersburg students and employees and to the general public, but students at the college will have priority. The college is also looking at hiring additional childcare workers, preferably with early childhood degrees, to meet the required adult to child ratio in the facility.
Architects Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff and Goettel of Pittsburgh designed the center. Funding was provided by a Community and Technical College System (CTCS) bond. The groundbreaking took place in June 2011.
In addition to the center itself, an outdoor pavilion was donated and constructed near the facility by local resident Mike Miller. The $85,000 shelter, which is equipped with cabinets, whiteboards and other learning materials, was named the Seth Miller Pavillion in memory of Miller’s grandson.
“To open the center, it was required that we provide a shaded area for the children in the outdoor space. Mike’s generous donation made this possible,” said Gnage.
In addition to funding provided by the CTCS, other supporters of the Center for Early Learning project include Richard and Liza Adams, Astorg Dodge, Astorg & Koreski, PLLC, Community Bank, David and Linda Dickirson, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, Harry Esbenshade, Jr., Greenleaf Landscaping-Al Lang, Henry Logan Foundation, Michael and Brenda Miller, McDonough Foundation, Oakland Foundation, Parkersburg Community Foundation, Ross Foundation, Sisters of Saint Joseph Foundation, Tedco-James Frantz, and Mickey Welch. Questions regarding the Center for Early Learning can be directed to the center’s director, Angela Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 304.424.8000, extension 668.