Conference Focused on Early Childhood

St. Joseph’s reputation as a pillar in the childhood education community made it the natural choice to host The Conversations Continue... School and Community Collaboration II: Learning in the Early Years, in January at the McGann Conference Center.

SJC Child Study Professor Dr. Mary Fritz and Dr. Laura Lustbader of Nassau BOCES organized the event, which was held in Patchogue in an effort to increase representation by Suffolk County school districts after a low turnout in 2008, when the conference was held at Hofstra University.

Several SJC alumni and faculty members were part of the audience,

including 10 Department of Child Study members and four staff members from the Universal Pre-K (UPK) program at the Patchogue-Medford School District, all of whom either have an M.A. in Literacy and Cognition from SJC or are working toward it.

Eight of the 12 UPK classes at Patchogue-Medford are run by SJC graduates. To qualify, Dr. Fritz said, students must be registered for SJC’s literacy and cognition program.

The state of UPK and early childhood education on Long Island was one of the major talking points at the conference.

Dr. Dana Friedman, of the Early Years Institute in Plainview, presented a study that examined the various causes for the relative lack of functioning UPK programs in Nassau and Suffolk.

One of the causes, she said, was the difficulty that many districts faced in properly preparing proposals to present to the New York State Education Department to access the appropriated funds.

“Hopefully the money is offered again this September and those who have now read the study will access the help they need in order to buy into it,” Dr. Fritz said.

Similar conferences are being planned for later this year and 2010.

From the Spring 2009 SJC Magazine


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