Construction is underway at St. Vincent de Paul Center, outfitting a toddler classroom with an observation space for university students to view a real classroom in action.
MSV Launches Toddler Demonstration Classroom with DePaul University
Connecting Communities | July 2021
Marillac St. Vincent Family Services has partnered with DePaul University's Early Childhood Education degree program in establishing a toddler demonstration classroom at St. Vincent de Paul Center. The classroom, which is currently under construction, will be a resource for students to observe a working early learning environment in real-time from behind a two-way mirror. The new classroom was set to open in 2020 but was delayed due to pandemic restrictions and will now open for the new school year in September 2021.
The Toddler Demonstration Classroom (TDC) will fulfill the vision of DePaul professor Alice Moss. Professor Moss built a similar program as Administrator for the Chicago Public Schools State Prekindergarten Program, "I felt there was a need for additional professional development to enhance the quality of services provided to the children."
Early childhood educators study education concepts and best practices through lectures, reading, and discussion. While this process is essential for preparing teachers, "Our students need in-person, hands-on experiences actually working with toddlers in the classroom," explained Professor Moss, adding that "they need to practice this so that they are ready to take over a classroom on their own."
Brittiany Mason, a seasoned early childhood educator, is one of two MSV Lead Teachers selected to run the TDC. She applied for the role because of her own experience, “when I started [teaching], I was just thrown into a classroom without anyone to guide me, and I almost quit.” Brittiany agrees that real-life observation is critical for aspiring teachers because “nothing in the books really prepares you for what you will experience in the classroom.”
"I am eagerly awaiting the day when we are in our classroom setting examples for the children and future teachers."
-MSV Toddler Demonstration Classroom Lead Teacher, Jacqueline Montgomery
Not only will the TDC provide a training ground for aspiring teachers, the Early Childhood Education program at MSV will benefit from research, analysis, and professional development. “Childcare programs that thrive are ones that remain open to new ideas, ways of operating, and especially making changes based on critical appraisal of performance,” says Director of the Early Childhood Education degree program at DePaul, Marie Donovan.
MSV Chief Operating Officer, Maureen Hallagan, believes the TDC will keep MSV’s ECE program at the forefront of early learning. “This pilot program will give us new data to improve the experiences of children in our program and keep our teachers abreast of best practices they can apply in the classroom.”
The opening of the TDC at St. Vincent de Paul Center is the first step in a 3-year pilot project. An infant demonstration classroom will be formed at Marillac Social Center in year two, followed by an additional observation room for toddlers at Marillac and an infant room at St. Vincent in year three. Maureen pointed out how the pilot links St. Vincent and Marillac in a meaningful way, stating that “by bringing Brittiany Mason from Marillac and Jacqueline Montgomery from St. Vincent as lead teachers, this will truly be a partnership between the two centers.”
Details about enrollment for the TDC are still in the planning phase, but MSV parents can rest assured that the standard of care will meet the same level of excellence as parents have come to expect in all classrooms at the centers. “What’s different,” explains Marie, “is how often the teachers engage in analysis of how to provide the best care to our youngest children. The TDC is an authentic laboratory where new approaches are piloted and studied – all without lessening the care and education of the children.”
For more information about enrollment in the Toddler Demonstration Classroom, or enrollment into any of our Early Childhood Education or School Age classrooms, tap the enrollment button below.