NATCHITOCHES – The Marie Shaw Dunn Child Development Center at Northwestern State University has been reaccredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children for another five-year term, through July 1, 2026. The CDC is a preschool center for 3- and 4-year-old children that was recently named a five-star center.
Accreditation demonstrates the CDC’s commitment to quality and continuous quality improvement. By accepting accreditation, NAEYC-accredited programs commit to ensuring their environment, policies and practices are continually aligned with NAEYC’s early learning standards and recommended practices.
The CDC enrolls 40 students with two full-time teachers and eight student workers coordinated by CDC Director Faith Stanfield and Assistant Director Joni Prewitt. According to Stanfield, the CDC’s connection to the university has many benefits, such as access to workers who are pursuing careers in early childhood or child and family studies.
“As a training site for early childhood graduates, our student workers are able to contribute to the curriculum with the latest research and pedagogy,” Stanfield said. The CDC’s location on a college campus and within a K-5 school is also an advantage.
“By communicating with the staff at this school, we are afforded the opportunity to ensure that our preschool students are kindergarten ready,” she said.
This past year, COVID created challenges with staffing and logistics for the CDC, its students and their families. With only credentialed staff were allowed inside the building, no volunteers could help, and new family regulations were enacted to mitigate potential exposure.
“We have been innovative in how we involve parents and families in keeping with developmentally appropriate standards,” Stanfield said. “Maintaining a sense of normalcy has been priority for our team and we have had to use our unique abilities in adapting to this new way of teaching children and families alike.”
Stanfield decided to pursue early childhood education as a career after taking a class with Dr. Cheryl McBride, former professor and advisor for undergraduates concentrating in early childhood, also one of Stanfield’s former teachers at the Child Development Center.
“Knowing that early childhood is one of the most important developmental periods in a child’s life, I fell in love with the opportunity to serve children and be one of their first teachers after their parents,” she said.
Stanfield said that having the CDC recognized as a five-star center is one of her proudest accomplishments.
“A five-star center is recognized for having exceptional instruction and relationships with young children in the areas of emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support. Every five years the center is reviewed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This year the center was evaluated and received its Accreditation scoring above 95 percent in all 10 domains,” Stanfield said.
The Child Development Center began in 1935 as a laboratory experience for students majoring in home economics with a concentration in child development. The Center is named for Dr. Marie Shaw Dunn, who created the child development concentration and started the nursery school, the first of its kind at a college in Louisiana. It was originally open to the children of faculty and employees. Eventually, child development broadened into early childhood education and is now part of the School of Education.
Information on the CDC and applications for enrollment are available at http://cdc.nsula.edu/.