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UC Student Recalls Preschool Years at Arlitt

Date: Feb. 12, 2001
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: General News

UC undergraduate Jackie Parker is watching over a busy area of a classroom in the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center as she keeps track of the children's turns on the computer. Her practical experience at the Arlitt Center may feel a little like de ja vu for the fourth year major in early childhood education. That's because Parker attended the preschool when she was three and four years old, back in 1982 and 1983.

Approaching its 75th birthday, Arlitt is one of the oldest demonstration preschools in the United States. As she started her preschool practicum at Arlitt during winter quarter, Parker recalled something from her own preschool days. "I remembered the mirrors. I remembered people could watch us. I thought it was kind of funny as a child, to play and to know people were watching me. Now as I'm teaching, I know people can still watch me at any time." From an observation booth, the two-way mirrors in the classrooms allow child care professionals to watch Arlitt's nationally recognized teaching program in action, without disturbing the class. More than 100 groups visited Arlitt during the 1999-2000 school year.

Parker also recalls the classrooms were divided into a variety of different learning centers. "Alexia, it's your turn on the computer. What would you like to do today? Do you want to go into 'I Spy' or do you want to paint?" Alexia chooses 'I Spy' as she takes her turn in the computer center. "The computer center is new since I was a preschooler," says Parker. "I remembered there was a music area, and I liked the puzzles. I also remember the easels in the art area."

Parker grew up in Clifton and attended Fairview Elementary and Walnut Hills High School before she graduated from Withrow High School. The 21-year-old selected UC, because she says it was close to home and she could get an education that was affordable. "I've always loved children, so it was only natural for me to decide on early childhood education."

Her supervisors say she chose the right profession. "As Jackie's university mentor for her preschool practicum, I observed Jackie today from the observation booth and while sitting in the classroom with her. She was calm and supportive of the children, using appropriate cues and prompts to facilitate learning. She also demonstrated excellent problem-solving skills," says Vicki Carr, director of the Arlitt Center.

It wasn't until Parker had a conversation with her mother that she realized that another UC faculty member, Arlitt professional development coordinator Sally Moomaw, was one of her preschool teachers as well. "I didn't realize Sally Moomaw had been one of my teachers back when I was little until my mom asked me if I had seen Sally, and then I put it all together."

Parker says her childhood experience at Arlitt left her with some lifelong friends, and now in adulthood, she's gaining valuable experience for her future career. "I've learned things like active listening...acknowledging the feelings of the child. That pretty much has always been the philosophy here. When I was little, my mom really liked how the staff talked to us and how Arlitt was structured."

As part of UC's nationally recognized Cincinnati Initiative for Teacher Education (CITE), Parker will begin her yearlong teaching internship in a public school classroom in 2002, gaining experience well beyond the traditional 10-15 week student teacher training. She's interested in teaching kindergarten.

The Arlitt Center will celebrate its 75th anniversary with an open house 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25.

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