CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Coastal Carolina University is launching the Chanticleer Center for Literacy and Early Childhood Education, a program that will include a full-day kindergarten class, a classroom that will offer two half-day programs for 3-year-olds and a classroom with two half-day programs for 4-year-olds.
Dr. Edward Jadallah, Ph. D, dean of Spadoni College of Education, said literacy education and early childhood development is the foundation for future learning.
"At a young age, that's when you acquire your literacy skills, and knowledge about language, about reading, about communicating in general," Jadallah said.
The Childhood Education program is currently the longest-running and largest program in the School of Education. Dr. Cathy Jones, associate professor of Early Childhood Education, helped develop the original proposal for the early childhood component for the center.
The Chanticleer Literacy Lab was established in 2012 by Dr. Jeanne Cobb, professor of literacy education, who will serve as the director for the Chanticleer Center for Literacy Education.
"The faculty and students work closely with the literacy lab, dealing with literacy development, assessments, tutoring and diagnostics for children who come to our center and for our grad students who work with them," said Jadallah.
Children in the future lab school will learn Spanish and English in the project-based kindergarten and preschool. These types of programs are offered in other parts of the country, and according to administrator officials, this CCU initiative will be the first in this region.
Three full-time instructors will be hired for the three classrooms that will have a maximum of 20 children enrolled in each level.
In addition, students in CCU's early childhood education program will have the opportunity to be involved in the program, which will offer innovative techniques for educating future teachers. The center will provide options for faculty, staff and students to have their children on campus for education and development.
"Literacy and childhood education go hand in hand," Jadallah said. "This is a very significant development, because not only will we be providing a service to our faculty, students, staff and community, but also our grad students, our undergrad students will be able to participate in the early development childhood center with internships, field experience. Our faculty will them be able to participate in research scholarships and a lot of cutting edge innovations."
The Early Childhood Education (ECE) and elementary program will also offer an after school program from 2:30 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
"We see this as an opportunity, the after school program as an opportunity, to give back to the community and to continue this idea of child development and literacy or language learning," Jadallah said.
The Horry County Higher Education Commission provided $166,000 in seed money for the program. Jadallah said,
"We are very fortunate and thankful for the Horry County Higher Education Commission," Jadallah said. "In addition to supporting our literacy lab for the past four years, they have also provided us with a 5-year sponsorship."
An outdoor play area will provide a natural setting with trees and shade areas and a four-foot grassy or tiled strip for riding toys.
The facility will have a video system with internet connection for observation and teaching in each classroom. In addition to its usefulness as a teaching tool and safety enhancement, this feature will also allow parents to observe the classes remotely.
The Chanticleer Literacy Lab (CLL) will also be housed in Kingston Hall. Jadallah said the plan is move the resources from the Kingston Building into the Singleton Building, which is currently being renovated.
Jadallah said the center will be extremely beneficial for the university and regional community.
"We will collaborate and partner with the local school districts, Horry County, Georgetown, Marion, Florence, Dillon, all these school districts are our partners and we will work with them regarding what is going on in the center as far as what kind of knowledge are we constructing here that let us better understand how they learn and how to teach them," Jadallah said.
He added meeting children's developmental needs, as well as providing opportunities for pre-service teachers' learning, is part of the continued growth for the College of Education.
There is not a definite time for when the Early Childhood Lab is scheduled to open, but Jadallah said hopefully by the 2017- 2018 school year upon the completion of renovations to Kingston Hall, the campus building where the center will be located.