NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s Marie Shaw Dunn Child Development Center hosted a ribbon cutting for the school’s new trike track and track naming ceremony Nov. 19. Members of the CDC family, administrators and community officials were present for the event.
The Taylor Starnes family ticket was drawn from a hopper in the inaugural track naming ceremony. The track will be named Taylor’s Trike Track for the next year when another raffle will take place.
“This new tradition will continue every year. A new name will be chosen for the path at the Sip and See at the beginning of every school year in August,” said Faith Stanfield, CDC director.
Updates and an expansion to the CDC playground have been in development for the last year and a half, Stanfield said.
“This year we turned the vision into a reality. The playground project began with the planning of our first ever Art Through Our Eyes expo. Donations were given at the expo. This past year, Mrs. Marsha Bernard Kirkland, a former NSU Child Development Center teacher, passed away. In lieu of flowers, her family created the Marsha Bernard Kirkland Playground Fund,” Stanfield said.
When the CDC was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC team used the time to begin renovating the existing trike track as phase one to the playground project. The expansion went beyond an already existing fence and circular road to encompass the entire playground with a painted road, directional arrows and road signs to promote literacy.
Funding for the project was also secured through the School Readiness Tax Credit, which is designed to support quality early care and education. The SRTC provides businesses with a dollar for dollar refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for donations to child care resource and referral agencies.
The Child Development Center for three- and four-year-old children began in 1935 as a laboratory experience for students majoring in home economics with a concentration in child development. Dunn, for whom the center is named, created the child development concentration at NSU 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.
Earlier this year, the CDC was reaccredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children for another five-year term, through July 1, 2026, and was named a five-star center.
Information on the CDC and applications for enrollment are available at http://cdc.nsula.edu/.