‘It’s a sad day for us”

Alexandra Nicolas/ The Chart Vanessa Harris, senior elementary education major, searches a picture book with Alyssa, one of her preschool students, Feb. 4.

Alexandra Nicolas/ The Chart Vanessa Harris, senior elementary education major, searches a picture book with Alyssa, one of her preschool students, Feb. 4.

Alexandra Nicolas

When Madison Wise was hired in November, she counted herself lucky.

Hired right before Missouri Southern administration announced a hiring freeze, she left another position to take a job she planned to love. Now, when Missouri Southern closes the doors of the Child Development Center, she and three others will find themselves out of work.

“This is the best experience I’ve had by far, it’s because of the high standards they keep here,” she said.

After the closing on May 15, Wise plans to move and search for a similar job elsewhere.

The closing was announced Jan. 22 as part of a wave of budget cuts that included the elimination of the men’s soccer team. Though the closing hasn’t created waves with young students, the impact is felt everyday for the teachers and Southern students who work in the center.

“It’ll be a huge impact, you get the hands-on experience and it’s more of a real-life setting,” said Vanessa Harris, senior elementary education major.

Started in 1986, the center is under the direction of Dana Forsythe, who will have worked at the CDC 14 years, this month.

“As long as I was healthy I was going to keep coming,” she said.

Accredited through the Missouri Accreditation of Early Childhood Education the center emphasizes a learning environment for it’s students one that CDC teacher Nikki Toppana says is hard to find elsewhere.

“My plan was to stay, my son went here,” she said. “I love this place.”

Toppana said she hopes to return to public schools.

“It’s been a great service for our faculty, students and staff to be able to bring their kids to school with them. The staff is outstanding, it’s like a family there,” said Dr. Glenn Coltharp, dean of the school of education. “It’s a sad day for us.”

Parents of children in the center were notified last month by letter of the year-end closing, Forsythe believes it will be hardest on the parents to explain the change to their children.

“It’s one of those things that’s just so far away,” Wise said. “They want to know if you’re coming back tomorrow.”

As parents search for new childcare in May, the staff of the CDC will search for new jobs hoping to find somewhere else that has the same commitment to early childhood education.

“It just really hits you sometimes,” Wise said. “I try not to think about it. It’s just not fair.”