February 26, 2018
A Lab School Community Grows in Pittsburgh—And Attracts International Visitors
By Ann Lyon Ritchie
Media Inquiries: Shilo Rea
Korean lanterns and traditional clothing were among the colorful highlights in early learning classrooms this winter. Seven student teachers from South Korea's Duksung Women's University interned for two weeks at Carnegie Mellon University's Children's School or at one of its neighboring early childhood education centers.
Called university laboratory schools for their participation in research and teacher training, the Children's School and the collaborating schools are distinctive for operating on a college campus in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.
All five campus-based schools in Pittsburgh form the Pittsburgh Alliance of University Schools, or PAUS, which hosted its first professional conference on Saturday, February 10 with presentations by the schools’ educators and Jason Kotecki, a professional speaker and co-founder of Escape Adulthood.
“The group felt a strong desire to organize and create more opportunities for networking and promoting an exchange of ideas outside the sphere of their classrooms,” said Sharon Carver, director of the Children’s School, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year.
Oakland's cluster of universities offers young children unique learning opportunities guided by diverse adults with broad areas of expertise, such as the Korean student teachers. Pittsburgh attracted Duksung researcher Byungho Lee, an associate professor in early childhood education, who mentored the student teachers and is spending his sabbatical year at CMU.
The member schools of PAUS are The Campus School of Carlow University, Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School and the University Child Development Center on the University of Pittsburgh's campus, and CMU's two early childhood programs, the Children’s School and Cyert Center for Early Education.
Participants hear about new practices from speakers like Leah Northrop, the yoga and mindfulness instructor at Falk Laboratory School and co-director of Pitt's Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies. The attendance for her recent workshop on mindfulness in the classroom had nearly tripled since her first talk to about a dozen participants.
"Pittsburgh is just an amazing breeding ground for research, development and practice on education. With so many opportunities for partnership and collaboration, Oakland is just the perfect little community," Northrop said.
Shannon Kotvas, the early learning center's interim director at The Campus School of Carlow University enjoys PAUS events for the chance to talk with teachers from schools "similar to my own."
"We were able to collaborate and share ideas with each other to help our students be more successful," Kotvas said.
“Our early education programs keep getting better, and that benefits us all. Pittsburgh has become known for its good community of early childhood education laboratory schools," said Jean Bird, an early childhood teacher at the Children's School.
Schools nationwide will soon learn about Pittsburgh's lab school community. Together with PAUS collaborators, the Children's School will co-host the annual conference for the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) in May.