Rena Rice Honored!Posted by Dara Eisenstein on October 05, 2012
On November 1, 2012, Rena Rice will be among six former directors of the Kingsborough Community College Child Development Center to be honored at the Center’s 40th anniversary celebration on the campus in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. Rena served as a teacher-director of the center from 1972 to 1976. The Center was originally established by student-parents who needed a quality child care program for their young children while they pursued their associate’s degree. It was one of the very first campus child-care centers that did not function as a “lab school” for the college’s early childhood education department. It served students’ children exclusively, and was administered by the department of student services.
The Center was housed in one large room, with children ages two to six learning together. Rena worked as teacher-director with a teacher and an assistant teacher who was one of the founding student-parents, and whose four-year-old attended the center. In addition, work-study students assisted them, so there were usually at least five adults in the classroom. The college gave the student-parents priority in registration, so that the Center could accommodate the maximum number of students at any one time. The Center opened at 7:15 a.m. so that the students in the nursing program could be at Coney Island Hospital by 8, and closed at 6 p.m.
Rena’s master’s thesis was a case study of the Center—its history, administration, schedule, environment, curriculum etc. A number of people have consulted the thesis when working to establish child care centers at their own institutions, including Pace University.
Rena also learned most of what she knows now about teaching and learning during her years at the Center: “I learned how to collaborate – with the teaching team, work-study students, parents, and college administration. I learned how to help children separate from their parents for their first school experience. I learned how to develop curriculum for a mixed age group of two- to six-year-olds. I learned to admire and empathize with the student-parents who were balancing schoolwork with child rearing, often as single parents. I still use all of these lessons in my work at Bank Street College, preparing graduate students to become teachers.”