November 16, 2018
Children’s School Party Celebrates 50 Years
By Ann Lyon Ritchie
Media Inquiries: Abby Simmons
Carnegie Mellon University's Children's School hosted "50 Years of Friends" Nov. 9 at the Pittsburgh Golf Club. The celebration and silent auction fundraiser attracted parents, alumni parents, educators and former faculty and staff to honor the early childhood education program's golden anniversary.
Special guests of the evening were Kate Golightly and her husband, Tom. Golightly is the daughter of Ann Baldwin Taylor, an educator who founded the school and served as its first director for 25 years.
Golightly attended an early childhood program on CMU's campus prior to 1968, when her mother was awarded a grant from the Esso Foundation. With the administrative support of psychology professor John Sandberg, Baldwin formed a laboratory school for young children in the vision of education reformer John Dewey.
"The administrators and educators tend to remain connected to the school for years. It's not only a school but also a community," Golightly said.
Sharon Carver became director of the Children's School in 1993, just as Golightly enrolled her first of two sons in the program. The school is for ages three through kindergarten, and it has had only two directors during its 50-year history.
In 2018, the school planted three trees on campus — two to honor Baldwin Taylor and Carver and a one as a tribute to the school.
The Children's School has influenced several generations. Among the 120 attendees at the anniversary celebration were many families and educators from years gone by, including at least four adults who attended the school as children.
Jennifer Balog and her husband, Doug, are alumni parents who enrolled their three children in the program. They could remember some of the hands-on experiments in the arts and sciences, including painting under tables to emulate work on the Sistine Chapel and an experiment with a jingle bell inside a vacuum to show the inability of sound to travel in space.
"Our children learned complicated topics at a level they could understand. The classroom activities gave them a reference point in their education that they carried with them throughout their lives," Balog said.
JoAnn Hargrove is currently a parent of a four-year-old.
"I love that my daughter does not sit at a desk but is encouraged to explore and experiment," Hargrove said.
With a silent auction featuring donated items from more than 50 organizations, ticket sales and gifts, the event raised over $14,000 towards the Children's School 50th Anniversary $50,000 campaign.
Carver gave closing remarks at the end of the evening.
"In the past half century, the world has changed dramatically, and so has our understanding of young children… During this time, we gradually broadened the Children's School's vision of our learning community to more fully integrate the researchers, undergraduates and other campus colleagues, as well as to form partnerships with the other laboratory schools in Pittsburgh, the other campus children's centers in the U.S., and other progressive schools around the world," Carver said.
The Falk School, a K-8 laboratory school at the University of Pittsburgh, is among the Children's School's partners. Falk School Director Jeff Suzik sees Children's School families enrolling in Falk after graduating from the early childhood program. The two schools share similar teaching philosophies.
"The Children's School is the indisputable leader among centers for early childhood development in a region that really is saturated with excellent options," Suzik said.
Photo credit: VanDyke Photography