Navarro Center dedication
Harriett Romo (left) with children and staff at new center
(Photo: Mark McClendon)

SAISD, UTSA open childhood development, community centers

By Leigh Anne Gullett
Public Affairs Specialist

(Jan. 27, 2006)--The San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have joined forces to open an early childhood development center that will demonstrate the best practices in early childhood education. A dedication ceremony was conducted Friday, Jan. 27 at the Navarro Academy, 623 S. Pecos La Trinidad.

One of 31 early childhood facilities built through SAISD's 2001 Bond Program, the center will showcase academic programs for 3- and 4-year-old students. It will serve approximately 96 children and will function as a laboratory for SAISD teachers and UTSA students in early childhood education. Parent Child Inc. also will offer its instructional program at the center.

"This collaborative has many beneficial aspects to the early childhood educators who will exchange ideas to better their professional skills, to UTSA students who will learn the latest effective teaching methods and to parents who now have another outstanding educational resource in this community," said Rubén Olivárez, SAISD superintendent. "More importantly, we're confident that the future educational success of our children will be established here in the nurturing environment of this early childhood facility."

SAISD funded the project at $1 million from the 2001 Bond Program for design and construction and is providing a teaching staff.

Additionally, Harriett Romo, UTSA associate professor of sociology, obtained a $584,972 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the Hispanic Serving Institutions Assisting Communities Program. Funds have been allocated for curriculum development, new teacher training and construction costs.

"We want to address the quality of services currently offered and hopefully provide the children the boost they need to gain equal educational footing with other children throughout the nation," Romo said.

The center will serve as a lab school with UTSA students studying early childhood education able to observe classroom situations from the Downtown Campus using distance learning technology. A second component offers a community center with a reading laboratory for children with limited language development and parenting classes, as well as instruction on home ownership and small business development.

Romo hopes parents who come to the center for support will take an interest in its programs, strengthening each child's support system beyond the center's walls.

Student registration is ongoing until all openings are filled. To enroll, children must be 3 or 4 years old and meet one of the following criteria: limited English proficiency, income eligible or presently in a homeless situation.

The center also is open to children of students enrolled at the UTSA Downtown Campus. Children need not live within the SAISD school boundaries. To register their children, parents must bring the child's certified birth certificate, Social Security card and updated immunization record, as well as proof of residency such as a utility bill, and proof of income such as a paycheck stub.

For more information, call (210) 354-0920 or (210) 224-5700.

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