Preschool dedication set for Oct. 22
Oct. 18, 2011
When Pamela Davis arrived at Henderson State University in 1971 to direct the new Child Service Center lab school and teach early childhood courses, she quickly realized the challenges that awaited her. Not only did Davis have to prepare for the courses, she also had to develop policies regarding the Child Service Center and order furniture and supplies.
Forty years later, Davis retired as the center’s director and professor of Early Childhood Education. She has left her mark on the center, both figuratively and literally. The Henderson Board of Trustees recently approved the renaming of the center to the Davis-Baker Preschool to honor Davis and longtime program supervisor Beverly Baker, who was a professor of family and consumer sciences.
A ceremony will be held on Oct. 22 at 9:30 a.m. in Henderson’s Education Center to dedicate the Davis-Baker Preschool.
The preschool is part of Teachers College, Henderson. It blends learning with fun for two pre-kindergarten preparatory classes. The children are taught by Henderson education and family and consumer science students who are supervised by licensed teachers.
One of Davis’ long-range teaching goals was the development of the Creative Arts room into a resource center where students could have access to age- and developmentally-appropriate teaching activities. “I have continued to develop these resources over the 40 years,” Davis said. “I am proud to say that the resources in the Creative Arts room have continued to improve and that I am able to share these teaching resources with students and teachers.”
Davis said her philosophy of education is to provide students with knowledge and to help them apply those learning principles within the classroom. “By having the lab school on campus, I was most fortunate to be able to teach classes where the students gain knowledge from coursework and are then able to apply these learning principles directly in a classroom setting,” she said.
Davis graduated in 1969 from Texas Woman’s University with a degree in child development. She earned her master’s degree in 1970 from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and her Ph.D. in early childhood education from Texas Woman’s University in 1981.
Before coming to Henderson, Davis was an instructor in child development and early childhood.
Baker came to work at Henderson in 1976. At that time, the preschool program was in the old nursery school building behind Proctor Hall. She said the primary goal of the Child Service Center has always been to provide the “best experience possible” for everyone, “whether he/she was a child, student, parent or other visitor.” Baker taught child development, parenting, family relations, childcare practicum, and several other classes.
“Pam and I worked closely together on all aspects of running the center from budget matters to decisions regarding equipment and maintaining licenses, as well as preparing for various inspections and dealing with day-to-day decisions,” Baker said. “We shared budgets, student workers, equipment and space. We did countless presentations at local, state, national and international conferences.”
Since its beginning, the preschool has served hundreds of Arkadelphia families. “Many Arkadelphia couples put their child on the waiting list for the program the moment that they know they are going to become parents,” said Dr. Judy Harrison, dean of Teachers College, Henderson. “The cost of running a well-respected, accredited preschool program for so many years is hard to estimate, but one thing is for sure – the love that Dr. Davis and Mrs. Baker have for the thousands of children who have gone through the program is priceless.”
Henderson has a tradition of providing quality care and education for preschool children in Arkadelphia for the past 80 years. “Much credit should go to the women who began this great tradition in the 1930s. However, Dr. Davis and Mrs. Baker spent their entire professional careers teaching, providing quality care and education for young children, managing facilities, and planning for the health, safety and nutritional needs of the children,” Harrison said. “Moreover, Dr. Davis developed a curriculum and provided real-life clinical experiences for college students majoring in early childhood education. Likewise, Mrs. Baker did the same for college students majoring in Family and Consumer Sciences with an option in childcare management.”
The pre-school is located in the Education Center. It was originally established in 1934 as a nursery school in a room in the old Alumni Foundation. The nursery was a project of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and was under the direction of Ruth Ream, “for the benefit of children between the ages of 2 ½ and four to promote better health habits and better social relationships among the children,” according to the book Henderson State University: Education Since 1890 by Bennie Gene Bledsoe.