Children’s center shines in a national spotlight

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Carla McCann
Friday, January 11, 2008
— For Francis Watson, every day is an adventure at the UW-Whitewater Children’s Center.

The 5-year-old Whitewater girl plans her school days around learning, playing and dressing up as a princess.

“I wear the same dress everyday,” she said in reference to the dress-up clothing hanging on a rack in the center’s play area.

She’s too young to understand or care that her center recently was accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

The children’s center is one of 13 in Wisconsin to achieve the mark of quality and one of the first nationally to earn re-accreditation for the sixth time.

Accreditation places the Whitewater center among only about 8 percent of all preschools and early childhood programs nationwide receiving the designation.

“We’re proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC and to be recognized for our commitment to reaching the highest professional standards,” said Cigdem Unal, director of the children’s center.

The criteria of the National Association for the Education of Young Children were revised in 2006 to introduce a new level of quality, accountability and service for parents and children.

Compared to past evaluations, today’s standards are far more rigorous, Unal said.

To achieve accreditation, the center went through an extensive self-study process, measuring the program and its services against the new standards and more than 400 related accreditation criteria, according to a news release from the association.

“We’ve been getting ready for this for the past 1-1/2 years,” Unal said.

The documentation required volumes of paperwork, Unal said.

The center is licensed for 40 children ages 2 to 12. It serves the children of UW-Whitewater students, faculty and staff and the community.

Mike Coon didn’t know about the center having earned national accreditation until being told by a visitor.

He wasn’t surprised.

Coon lives in Whitewater and takes his 3-year-old daughter Abby to the center while he is at work.

“There is so much for her to do here,” Coon said. “There’s a lot of interaction with the teachers and other children. Everything is so well organized, and the kids always seem to be learning here.”

Coon praised the center for its cultural diversity.

On an introductory visit to the center Thursday with her 5-year-old son Nick, Jodi Galvan said the center’s environment teaches children that being different is OK.

The students include children of color and those with special needs.

“This is a wonderful place to be,” Galvan said.

When it was time to leave, Nick wanted to stay.

Last updated: 2:25 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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