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Loss of Children’s Learning Center in Howard a major setback for teacher training | READER COMMENTARY

Leah Barsky, 11, left, of Clarksville Middle School and classmate Heather Grey work together making icing topping for their taco cake at Howard Community College. File.
Leah Barsky, 11, left, of Clarksville Middle School and classmate Heather Grey work together making icing topping for their taco cake at Howard Community College. File. (Nate Pesce/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

I am writing to you about the article in The Sun about the permanent closure of the Howard Community College’s Children’s Learning Center (”Parents disappointed by closure of Howard Community College’s Children’s Learning Center,” Aug. 8). I was quoted in that article, but I wanted to reach out as I feel an important aspect of the Children’s Learning Center was missed which is how it will affect the students who are majoring in education.

I got to see the CLC from all angles, as I was a parent, student, education major and was also able to substitute teach there. As I told your reporter, I was a single mom who had just gotten clean and sober after a 10-year run in Baltimore. When I had gotten pregnant with my daughter, I was living with my parents about a mile from the CLC and was two months clean and sober. I had a minimum wage job and was still lost and hopeless. I knew going back to school and obtaining a college degree was the only way I could provide for my daughter as a single mother. I had a lot of hesitation about this though because leaving my daughter was going to be hard.

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The second I entered the CLC I knew it was the place for Faith, my daughter. I walked in and felt at “home” with the warm atmosphere and kind teachers. The CLC worked with me to establish the best care possible and they had an open-door policy for parents, which made me feel much more comfortable. The CLC allowed me to feel safe about leaving her and focus on learning and bettering myself. They also helped me become a better mother and person and never judged me along the way, even though they knew about my past and knew I was struggling on how to raise a child.

I decided to enter the education field and many of my classes took place at the CLC, since it’s a lab school. We got to observe this high level of care and even to be hands-on with the children. These visits allowed enhanced attention to the children and extra hands for the teachers. The children loved the days the students came to visit and helped and my daughter often came home and talked about the visits and the engaging activities they did. These visits also helped me as I began to learn about the creative curriculum approach and how important this was for young children. We also often got to observe the children and teachers from the soundproof booths which really allowed us to see everything that being a teacher entailed. These visits and observation made me confident in my decision to become a teacher and I graduated from Howard Community College with honors.

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Due to the fact the college livestreamed the graduation, the teachers at the CLC put it on for my daughter to watch as she was still too young to attend a hot graduation outside. They took a picture of her jumping up and cheering when I walked across the stage and that picture means the world to me and has carried me through many difficult times. After graduating, I did some subbing at the CLC and I truly got a firsthand view of the teachers love and nurturing for all students behind the scenes. This experience gave me what I needed to obtain a job at another well-known child care facility in Howard County. I then went on to University of Maryland Baltimore County and graduated with honors and got a job teaching in Baltimore. I am in my third year as a teacher and working toward my master’s degree at Loyola University Maryland.

I can promise you that without the CLC none of this would have been possible. The Children’s Learning Center and the things they offer, from exceptional care to the observation rooms for students helped me to gain a life beyond my wildest dreams. All students should have this same opportunity. Permanently closing a lab school will affect many of the students programs and the eliminate college-controlled hands-on experiences.

Jody L Grandier, Columbia

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