Friday, March 24, 2023

Child development center to get face-lift

November 27, 2000
Children feed the class rabbit, Smokey, at the Spartan Child Development Center, 1730 E. Crescent Road, on Tuesday. The university has pledged $2 million to build a new facility for the center. —

The Spartan Child Development Center doesn’t look like a place that would house 90 children each day.

Put together by five white trailers and covering about 6,800 square feet, the nearly 30-year-old facility near Spartan Village apartments sees children from 60 different countries within its cramped walls.

“It was started in response to a need for child care for university employees,” said Robin Zeiter, the center’s executive director. “Now we make use of every classroom.”

Along with an outside playground, the building at 1730 E. Crescent Road has about 10 play areas, toys, books, lockers and a full kitchen providing three meals a day. But with so much packed into the facility, there’s a serious space problem.

So this spring, the center will undergo a long-overdue makeover.

MSU has committed $2 million to replace the facility and more than double the available space. The new center will be complete with storm protection, more storage space and a multipurpose room.

Groundbreaking will begin around April behind the current building and, after 12 to 18 months of construction, is estimated to allow the center to serve 20 to 30 more children.

“We’ve been working on a new building for a number of years,” said Zeiter, who taught at the center before becoming its executive director eight years ago.

The Spartan Child Development Center is a self-supporting, nonprofit corporation that is an agent of MSU. Faculty, staff, students and people from Greater Lansing send children from 2-weeks- to 6-years-old there.

Stacey Prange, a family community services senior, is one of about 30 MSU student aides at the center. Prange said her mother completed student teaching work there - then considered a temporary facility.

“That building is so cramped,” Prange said. “It will definitely be so much better with the new building.”

But despite the tight space, Prange said she’s getting hands-on experience with the things she’s learning in her classes at the center.

“I have a great base to go and look for a job,” she said. “And I’ve worked with some great people.”

Teachers and care providers at the center create lesson plans for children to correspond to their development. Children are taught social themes, such as friendship, and get math experience from activities.

“Mainly we do developmentally appropriate lesson plans to help their cognitive, language and social skills,” said Sheila Freeman, one of the center’s team teachers.

Freeman has been working at the center since she graduated from MSU’s child development program eight years ago. She said one of the greatest rewards has been watching the children grow and develop.

“I keep close contact with children when they go to the kindergarten classroom,” she said.

Bruce Baker, a single parent with a 5- and 8-year-old, visited a number of child care facilities before his first child was born. He now sits on the center’s board of directors.

He said the new facility will be an improvement to area child care since his children attended the center.

“Up to age 5, I think a lot of attitudes of lifelong learning are developed, and we need to put a lot more emphasis on that,” he said.


Share and discuss “Child development center to get face-lift” on social media.