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For 25 Years, A Center of Attention

09/19/13
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Children’s Center Director Barbara Krakowsky and Human Resources Vice President Leo Sullivan greeted guests at Saturday’s celebration marking the center’s 25th anniversary. (Photo by Christopher Huang)

By Kathleen Sullivan |
Chronicle Staff

Published: Sept. 19, 2013

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Boston College Children’s Center (BCCC) held a reunion last Saturday, welcoming back families who have been a part of the center — and who praised Director Barbara Krakowsky and her colleagues for their efforts to create a nurturing place that provides high-quality early education and child care for children of BC employees and students.  

“BCCC was one of the best experiences our sons and our family have had. This weekend’s celebration reminded us all of the very special community that Barbara Krakowsky and her team have built and sustained for 25 years,” said College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean David Quigley, who served on the center’s Parents Advisory Council for several years while his sons Nathaniel, Tyrone and Graham (now, respectively, in 11th, 8th grade and 5th grade) attended. “Each of our boys entered the center fearful of starting school and being away from us, and by the time they finished, they were thriving and ready for kindergarten.”

Owned by Boston College and operating under the division of the Vice President for Human Resources, the Children’s Center is licensed by the Massachusetts Office of Early Education and Care and accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, a branch of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The children at the center range in age from 2.9 to 5 years old. They are arranged by development level into groups called Discovery Ducks, Explorers or Adventurers. 

“The BCCC faculty is a truly remarkable group of teachers and the center reflects their commitment to excellence in early education,” said Krakowsky, who estimates that the center staff has educated and cared for more than 400 children in its first quarter-century.

“[They] do everything possible to assure a child reaches his or her potential in all the domains. They plan play-based activities that are engaging and reflect the state’s core standards. Social and emotional development is key to later success and the teachers put emphasis on this area. They put much thought and expertise into the planned experiences of every child’s day and then they add many warm, nurturing interactions.”

“The BC resources that are available to the kids at the BCCC are extensive and are not resources that are not typically part of the curriculum at other centers," said Office of First Year Experience Associate Director Elizabeth (Biz) Bracher, whose sons Christian (now 10) and George (now 5) attended the center. “My boys visited the BC mailroom when they were doing a unit on the postal service, were given a tour of the football locker room on the off season by the captains of the football team, were given their own BC Ids when they visited Student Services, wore hardhats and visited the Stokes job site, were able to sit on a BC Police motor cycle during their visit to BCPD, played soccer with the women's soccer team and ran around the bubble with the women's lacrosse team, just to name a few of the unique experiences the BCCC kids get to have every week. Those resources, coupled with the lack of turnover in the staff, make the BCCC a truly exceptional early childhood center.”

The need for safe, high quality child care is as critical for employee and student families’ work/life balance now as it was when the center was established, according to Krakowsky. “Feeling confident that your child is being well cared for, in a developmentally appropriate educational program, has a positive impact on employee and student productivity.”

“Having child care on campus certainly made it easier for me to juggle my job – and I was working on my doctorate at the same time,” said University Advancement Associate Vice President for Operations and Planning Brenda Speight Ricard, whose son Aidan, now a midshipman 4th class at the US Naval Academy, and daughter, Michaela, a high school junior, attended the Children’s Center. “Knowing that my children were being so well cared for definitely enabled me to keep all of the balls in the air successfully, most of the time!"

Many BCCC parents cited the added benefit of being introduced to other members of the BC community through their connections at the Children’s Center. “I have come to know my colleagues not simply as directors, administrative staff, instructors, trades people, department chairs, vice presidents, police officers, researchers and graduate students,[but] as working parents who share the occasional struggles of putting together a meaningful life that can include a profession and the awesome vocation of being a parent,” said Bracher.

"I also had the opportunity to meet many people on campus I might not otherwise have had the chance to get to know. Many of the relationships that I formed back then continue today," added Ricard.

Perhaps the biggest endorsement for the Children’s Center can be found in one of its current families.

“We have a child here now who is a second generation. It feels great to have a former student bring their own child to us,” said Krakowsky. “We all feel like foster grandparents. We love it.”