UCDC Developments                December 2012
In This Issue
Winter Break
Lactation Rooms
Song Lyrics - Autumn Leaves
UCDC Reads - Stop Snoring Bernard
The Wonder and Complexity of Infant and Toddler Relationships
UCDC Philosophy Explained - Goals for Children
Spotlight on Staff - Preschool 4
Winter Break

UCDC will be closed from Monday, December 24th through Tuesday, January 1st. We will re-open on Wednesday, January 2nd.

Enjoy the time off with your family!
Lactation Rooms

It is clear that UCDC supports breastfeeding mothers by offering private spaces in the building, supporting on-demand feeding schedules for infants, and welcoming parents to nurse their children anywhere in our building. 
Fortunately, the larger University also supports breastfeeding by providing Lactation Rooms on campus. Click here for a list of spaces around campus.
Song Lyrics
Autumn Leaves by Preschool 3 

Each autumn when the cool wind blows,

(Make large blowing gestures)

The leaves just fall and spin.

(Spin around)


I rake them up into a pile,

(Make raking motions)

And then I jump right in!

(Jump forward)


The wind takes leaves

(Make grabbing motion)

Right off the trees

(Turn around)

And sends them floating down.

(Wave fingers down to ground)


The wind goes by,

(Swing arms along ground)

The leaves fly high,

(Revolve hands around and up)

And then they dance around.

(Dance around room)

UCDC Reads
Toddler 1 Reviews Stop Snoring Bernard by Zachariah Ohora


What do you do when you have a habit which is annoying to everyone around you? Well, if you're Bernard, you listen to the advice of one of your peers.  Bernard is an otter whose snoring is disruptive to everyone.  Grumpy Giles angrily advises him to "snore somewhere else."  So Bernard moves to other animal enclaves, looking for acceptance.  Unfortunately, every other species rejects him - even the nocturnal bats. As he seeks a place for himself, Bernard finds that straying far from his roots only leads to further rejection. Finally, Grumpy Giles and the otter clan find that life (and the subdued noise level) wasn't the same without Bernard.  After apologizes are accepted, Bernard resumes his rightful place, snores and all!


Reading this delightful book is a life lesson which our class appreciates - everyone has shortcomings and friends learn to accept them.  We also enjoy pretending that we are Bernard and seeing if our "snoring" can keep others "awake!" 



Last month, during our Professional Development Day, we had an opportunity to celebrate eleven staff members for reaching notable years of service to the University of Pittsburgh. We recognized three staff members for twenty years of service, one staff member for ten years of service and seven staff members for five years of service. Additionally, while the University doesn't formally recognize twenty five years of service, we do and we have a teacher who has been here for 25 years and 3 months!  That is a combined total of 125 years of working with children and families. Incredible!!!! 


To begin our list,  Maureen Sahr (Toddler 2) is our most experienced UCDC staff member, and she started her career on September 1, 1987- over 25 years ago.  She has worked in three different locations, but has always worked with our most energetic group - toddlers. We also want to congratulate Shelley Martin (Infant 3) and Lynda Stiger (Toddler 1) for twenty years of service. Cheryl Condle (not pictured), one of our afternoon substitute teachers, has been here for ten years. Gayle Antonacci (Infant 3), Christina Fink (Toddler 4), Sandi Blum (Toddler 4), Katie Anglin (Infant 4), Emily Daller (Infant 2) and Katie Cozzolongo (Toddler 3) have each been with UCDC for five years.  It is also noted that Mary Fertelmes has been with UCDC for five years, but has actually been at the University for eight years since she worked for three years at the PITT Book Store prior to her employment at UCDC.  


As an administrator, I face the unfortunate task of replacing a staff member when they leave UCDC. Most of our teacher turnover is for personal reasons and I always encourage and support their decisions to move on or up, stay home with their precious children, or relocate because of a loved one.  Whatever the reason, it is often a difficult decision to make. At UCDC, we are incredibly fortunate to have teachers who work here because they genuinely enjoy what they do and are committed to the children and families in the most sincere way.  


We are also fortunate that we are employees of the University of Pittsburgh who receive great benefits, an incredible building,and the opportunity to grow professionally. In the field of Early Childhood Education, we sometimes lack the same professional respect that is given to elementary, middle or high school teachers.  At UCDC, we stress the level of professionalism that is expected in our building and always want to emphasize that we are not just a day care center, nor are we babysitters.  Our work is much more involved and evolved than that. 


Staff turnover in the field of Early Childhood Education is noted as one of the biggest concerns of administrators and parents. It is an industry wide problem, and a serious one, felt more in some child care services than others depending on their situation, size and setup. It is widely believed that up to 30-40% turnover is not unusual, but some child care centers and services fare better than others.  Fortunately at UCDC, we have teachers with longevity, lower turnover rates and four outstanding substitutes on site to cover for teachers' absences. Compared to the general work force, child care professionals have a higher level of education as compared to others receiving comparable monetary compensation. Sadly, these other professions typically do not require the level of responsibility or dedication that child care professionals assume daily while taking care of young children.  Our staff come to work daily ready to put 100% into everything that they do.  And believe me, they do quite a lot!


So, congratulations to all of our staff who have reached milestones at UCDC. I would also like to welcome our newest staff members to UCDC.  Kristen (Toddler 3), Lindsay (Toddler 1), Jenna (Preschool 2), Mande (Toddler 1), and Samantha (office) are all getting acclimated and have already shown their dedication and commitment to our philosophical beliefs. They have also already shown a great deal of patience and love to children in their classrooms.  Please take a moment to thank a teacher for all that they do everyday to make both you and your child's experiences at UCDC be the absolute best that they can be!



Mary Beth



Dear Families,


I'd like to add to this correspondence to recognize yet another staff member for twenty years of service. Mary Beth McCulloch has been at the University for twenty years this December. She started at UCDC as a classroom teacher, then accepted the position as the Education Coordinator, and for the past four years, has been our Director at UCDC. Throughout her varied roles at UCDC, Mary Beth has never lost her strong passion for creating a child centered, child initiated, play based program. From direct classroom experience to teacher training, Mary Beth's passion for young children continues to shine.

Congratulations on twenty years, Mary Beth!




Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator

The Wonder and Complexity of Infant and Toddler Relationships
By Lindsay Claus, Toddler 1 Head Teacher 


Those who work closely with infants and toddlers as teachers or parents understand how concerned, helpful, empathetic, cooperative, and friendly young children can be.  If you spend a few moments in an infant or a toddler classroom you may observe one child offer a prized toy or a book to a child who is crying.  One might also observe children greeting each other in the mornings as if they have not seen each other in weeks.  According to recent research, we are informed that young children are capable of being prosocial, caring, and loving, but need the support of an adult in order to maximize these competencies.  The first three years of life for infants and toddlers is vital to the development of their social competence. 


Infants and toddlers need exceptional programs that focus on quality adult-child and child-child relationships.  These types of programs help young children develop caring and enjoyable relationships with those around them.  Donna Wittmer explains three reasons that teachers should focus on young children's peer relationships and social competence during the first three years of life.  The first is that they have more opportunities to interact with their peers in early care and education groups than in previous years.  The strategies teachers and parents use that help children think about how others feel and what they are experiencing influence children's social skills. The second reason is that infants and toddlers are uniquely capable of interacting with one another and building each other's competence.   They are learning about their own and others' cultures as they relate to peers.  Even when they have conflicts or use aggressive behaviors with peers they are gaining social knowledge. The third reason is that for a healthy social and emotional development, infants and toddlers need the strong foundation that protection, affection, and emotional connections with adults provide.  It is with this foundation and the continued support of thoughtful, gentle, and emotionally available adults that the social experience of infants and toddlers flourishes. 


Teachers and parents know that many infant and toddler interactions consist of parallel play where children are playing beside each other but not with each other.  However, these interactions are much more complex.  Infants watch and sometimes older infants delight in other infants; toddlers imitate, share meaning and themes associated with their play, and communicate with each other in interesting ways. Two-year-olds cooperate and begin to participate in dramatic play.    Young children are goal-oriented with their peers and will try different strategies to make a peer smile or negotiate who will hold a toy. 


There are many ways that teachers and families can foster these interactions.  Place infants where they can see each other on pads or blankets on the floor.  Provide mirrors for young children to admire themselves in front of.  Watch for imitation and pay attention to which behaviors are being imitated and who is being imitated and allow them the time and space to imitate each other.   Recognize that young children also watch their family members and teachers closely as well as their peers so it is important to model kindness, gentle touches,  and help children to understand how to read the emotions of others.  By doing these things we are modeling socially effective ways of being with and caring for others. 


While when toddlers are together there will be many positive interactions, it is equally important to acknowledge the conflicts that will also be present and to understand that they also share a role in building social competence.  Unless a child is being physically hurtful to another child, observe the interaction.  If they need support use strategies that build child's language and relationship skills because mediating and sharing strategies work much better than exerting power and control.


As teachers and parents of young children we can effectively build their social competencies by doing many things.  The first thing we do is meet children's emotional needs for affection and emotional connections.  Together we work and plan for prosocial environments and caring communities with families. 


We observe children carefully to learn about their development and what works well and demonstrate empathy and kindness at all times.  We support infants' and toddlers' development of skills in taking others' perspectives by communicating with them.   Throughout their days we provide extended periods of time for play and provide continuity of care and group.   Lastly we teach young children alternatives to aggression. Ultimately, remember to delight in young children's glee. 



Journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The Wonder and Complexity of Infant and Toddler Peer Relationships. By Donna Wittmer September 2012.



UCDC Philosophy Explained: Answers to Common Parent Questions 
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator


Parent Question: What are the goals for the children of UCDC?


Answer: Every child at UCDC will have their own set of goals that are determined by the child's abilities and areas to grow. The teachers gain this knowledge through a variety of avenues including parent communication, observation, and interacting with the children.


At the University Child Development Center, we also have universal Goals for the Children including:

  • To instill a positive self-image in each child.
  • To provide a safe, secure, accepting, and happy environment in which to play and learn.
  • To encourage children to become independent so that eventually they become functioning, contributing members of society.
  • To respect each child as an individual who has special needs, capabilities, and potential.
  • To foster the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth of each child by:
    • Exposing the child to a variety of creative experiences.
    • Encouraging the child to become more aware of his or her surroundings.
    • Enabling the child to develop his or her senses.
    • Fostering language development in each child.

The teachers at UCDC have an innate ability to gain the understanding of every child and work on their individual goals in unique ways in a natural and playful way.


Spotlight on Staff 
Preschool 4
Take a minute to get to know this amazing team at UCDC. Claudia, Katie, and Amber are extremely creative, amazingly innovative, and extremely kind. Read on to learn more about them...

If I looked in your refrigerator, what would I find?

  • "It's pretty boring.  I just have our staples that my family always uses such as milk, grapes, juice, lettuce, carrots, and celery.  I usually always have some type of leftovers as well." - Claudia
  • "You'd find many things in my refrigerator but my favorite things are dips like salsa, hummus and guacamole." - Katie
  • "Condiments." - Amber

What new hobby/talent have you learned in the past five years?

  • "Jamie (Education Coordinator) and Ammie (HT from Preschool 1) have introduced me to Pinterest.  Now I am happily pinning away and finding so many good ideas for the classroom and my home." - Claudia
  • "I discovered how to make wool felt from old sweaters which I have used for many hand-sewn projects like slippers, purses, and stuffed animals." - Katie
  • "Fitness dance class." - Amber

What is the most creative activity you did with your children in your classroom this month?

  • "We are experimenting with different types of mosaic work.  This was inspired by a walk over to the new apartments and a talk with the artist who did the beautiful mosaic work on the building." - Claudia
  • "Earlier this month, we gathered up all of the MANY boxes, paper towel rolls, and other reusable "garbage" we've collected in our classroom. It was a lot! We put the materials out on the floor in art area for the children to access easily, gave them tape and a tray to work on, and watched as they created. The children were extremely focused and engaged in their projects, and each one had a different purpose. There were bird feeders, rockets, video cameras and more. It is wonderful to see them become so inspired by such simple materials!" - Katie
  • "Dipping wooden spiny tops in paint and spinning them on paper." - Amber

What is your favorite piece of clothing? Why?

  • "I guess my comfortable button down shirts made out of corduroy." - Claudia
  • "I love hoodie sweatshirts, though you will rarely see me wearing one at UCDC. One of the first things I do when I get home for the day is change into a hoodie because they're so cozy!" - Katie
  • "Sweaters because I love the fall." - Amber

Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?

  • "My parents of course! They showed me the importance of staying close to your family and supporting each other.  They taught me to treasure the happy  moments and to feel blessed for the talents and gifts in my life." - Claudia
  • "My parents, of course. I feel very lucky to have parents whom I'd choose as friends even if we weren't related." - Katie
  • "My mother. Her work as a teacher has inspired me to pursue a career in education." - Amber

What makes you laugh?

  • "My youngest daughter who is 14 is always making me laugh. We have some very silly times together when we are cleaning up after dinner." - Claudia
  • "I think I get along so well with young children because I love silliness. Anything silly makes me laugh." - Katie
  • "My friends, jokes, and just having a good time." - Amber

What makes you cry?

  • "Sad movies and books always make me cry." - Claudia
  • "I cry pretty easily about touching things on TV or in movies. I don't think there's been an episode of Parenthood yet that hasn't made me well up!" - Katie
  • "Sad news" - Amber

How many pairs of shoes do you own?

  • "I feel like I have just one pair because I always wear the same pair of comfortable shoes to work.  But I'm not really sure how many more are floating around in the back of the cupboard." - Claudia
  • "I don't want to know but definitely more than I need!" - Katie
  • "50 (over half are flip flops and sandals) and I probably wear 1/5 of what I own." - Amber 

What was the best thing before sliced bread?

  • "A hot cup of tea for sure.  It warms the heart!" - Claudia
  • "A loaf of bread?" - Katie
  • "The pencil sharpener" - Amber

If you had a thousand dollars to give away, what would you do with it?

  • "I think right now that Hurricane Sandy comes to mind right away.  I could give it to the Red Cross for relief efforts." - Claudia
  • "Sadly a thousand dollars doesn't get very far in the world today, so I'd have to come up with something really fun. Maybe I'd plan an awesome UCDC field trip or buy the school some new playground equipment." - Katie
  • "If I had a thousand dollars to give away I would donate it towards Sandy relief funds." - Amber
We hope that you've enjoyed this edition to our newsletter. We love feedback, so feel free to share your comments and ideas!
UCDC Newsletter Committee
The University Child Development Center