Clark College’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) and Family Life departments are acclaimed regionally and statewide. Employing a three-prong approach, the faculty and instructors from both departments collaborate to provide curriculum and a learning laboratory for early childhood educators, guide and partner with community parents and families, and equip children with what faculty members describe as “a full spectrum of skills and training for life.”
Phase I – The new facility has plenty of large windows, use “green” building materials and construction practices, and incorporate interior courtyards. Exterior play spaces create a sense of community, enhance respect for nature, and focus on natural materials.
The indoor area of Phase I contains two flexible classroom spaces, a large multipurpose room, kitchen, and resource center. The multipurpose room includes a double-sided fireplace and stage, a kitchen pass-through counter, and movable furniture to support family gatherings, staff and community provider trainings, and children’s activities. The resource center contains reference materials to nurture parenting skills and child development.
Phase I also includes an outdoor play environment, known as the “Little Penguins' Gardens.” The gardens feature a live willow hut, rock spiral area for storytelling, bubbling creek bed with hand pump, a tiered hill for climbing and playtime, and a simulated camp ground.
Kitty Welsh of Vancouver donated the funding for the “Little Penguins’ Gardens" in honor of her late husband, Paul. A bench in the garden is inscribed with her husband’s name.
Phase II – Phase II is still in the planning stages in terms of design and funding. When completed, Phase II will replace the two remaining buildings in the Children and Family Services complex. Two pods will contain a number of classrooms and faculty offices as well as an atelier art studio and an observation deck for the Clark students who will go on to become early learning professionals.
When both phases are complete, the Early Learning Center will have:
• New classrooms for toddlers and pre-kindergarten.
• New multi-purpose room for early learning community.
• Innovative outdoor play space and learning gardens.
• Computer lab and resource library for parents, families and educators.
• Centralized learning kitchen to promote healthy nutrition.
• Enhanced classroom technology.
• Improved safety features.
• Multi-use studio workspace to enhance critical thinking, idea generation, and arts study.