Center celebrates 15 years of service
Student, faculty children utilize services
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 22:10
The Becky Gates Children Center celebrated 15 years of serving the children of Texas A&M faculty, staff and students Saturday.
Named after the wife of former A&M president Robert Gates, the center strives to offer a high-quality preschool program for the children ages 1-5 years of students and educators at the University.
Within the center, located by the horticulture gardens off South College, students learn everything from potty training to a kindergarten curriculum, and most students leave the center being able to read, said Kisha Lee, director of the center.
“We warn parents that their kids might be bored in kindergarten,” Lee said.
The center is mostly self-funded by tuition from parents and the small percentage of student fees allotted to the center typically goes to student workers, Lee said.
The 50 student workers also gain experience. Students majoring in kinesiology help with physical education while students majoring in business work with the marketing aspect of the center and students majoring in education are in the classrooms, said Lee.
In addition to this funding, the center received a one million dollar endowment on behalf of the McFerrin family, which has a long-time friendship with the Gates family. This endowment allows teachers to attend education workshops and purchase supplies for their classrooms.
About 40 percent of all slots for children are reserved for University students, and a tuition discount on daycare services is offered to parents enrolled at the University.
With the center offering a multicultural daycare and preschool program, it has a spanning demographic. Among student parents, a notable population has roots in China, Korea, India, and Iran.
“Our children come from 22 different countries, and we’ve counted 18 different languages,” Lee said.
Many students come in not knowing much English, which challenges teachers to find a way to best communicate..
Curriculum and Instruction graduate student Nasser Jabbari and his wife send their four-year-old son Zavash to the center. They are both second year PhD students from Iran who searched for a preschool to send their son to.
“When I came here, it was incredible compared to all the other day cares I visited,” Nasser Jabbari said. “Everything is so open. The faculty was very willing to be observed and extremely friendly and caring.”
Nasser Jabbari said his son has never once said that he didn’t want to go to day care and that he has made substantial ground in learning English.
“Something that was really unbelievable to me was [Zavash] learning the language,” Jabbari said. “When he came here, he didn’t know one word. Now he’s fluent,”
Two teachers have stayed with the program since day one, Andrea Powers and Martey Heard, or Ms. Andrea and Ms. Marty to her small students.
Powers said she will occasionally run into families that she has taught over the years, and even though the child may not remember her, stories of Ms. Andrea have been discussed within the family.
Heard said she is able to help foster the learning within young minds because this is such an age of discovery.
“It never ceases to amaze me how they can learn so much at a young age,” said Heard. “The biggest blessing is being able to do what I love every day: working with kids. This is living out my dream. Being able to come to work and being excited about what I do.”