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Vicki Fields developed a very specific list of criteria as she researched preschool programs for her daughter. After careful consideration of five different facilities, the Center for Early Education at Montgomery College’s Germantown Campus was the clear choice. The deciding factors? It was a motherly instinct in knowing she would be in a safe and loving environment.

“The difference is the quality of care provided for my child,” Fields said. “The MC staff is so engaged with the children. I also greatly appreciate the structure and the cleanliness of the center. Furthermore, I value the curriculum to help prepare my daughter for kindergarten.”

The Center for Early Education on the Germantown Campus recently integrated into the Education and Social Science Department providing opportunities for meaningful learning and research across disciplines.

The realignment placed the focus of the College’s centers on student learning through observation and practicum opportunities. The new model was an instant boon for Montgomery College’s early childhood education majors. The CEE provides an on-campus location for MC students to observe early childhood best practices in a professional environment, says Teresa DeLisi, Center for Early Education manager.

“Our program strives to be a national leader in the field of early childhood education,” DeLisi said. “We continue to provide a high quality program where students can observe best practices with the developmentally appropriate curriculum, classroom design, and positive teacher-child interactions.”

Students also have opportunities to volunteer or work in the classroom to gain real work experience as they develop their resumes.

According to Sonia Pruneda-Hernandez, associate professor for Education and Social Sciences on the Rockville Campus, “the MC students learn skills to foster positive relationships, support community outreach opportunities, and develop communication skills when working with others.”

Pruneda-Hernandez is also the Early Childhood Education Club advisor. In the fall, the club hosted the first annual fall festival at the CEE, inviting families and community members to the campus. Over 230 people attended the festival.

“It was interesting to find that this event had many family child care providers from the county,” Pruneda-Hernandez said. “The professionals I spoke to at the festival stated that they were there to tour the center and look for ideas since they believed that faculty would ensure that all activities were developmentally appropriate… This provides evidence that the MC programs are models to not only families in our county, but the early childhood education professionals in this area.”

She loves it at the Center,” Fields said. “She looks forward to being with her friends and she always has positive things to say about the teachers.”