October 2014
University Child 
Development Center

635 Clyde Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(P) 412.383.2100
(F) 412.383.2120

Director's Corner


Welcome to the first issue of our newly reconfigured UCDC newsletter!  Our most sincere thanks to those of you who responded to our online survey (which we will be using more often to collaborate and support each other's needs).  Your answers helped us to redesign the format and change some of the features.  We hope that you enjoy the new version this month. It's always rewarding to implement new changes that are valuable and make sense for our parents and staff. 


Speaking of change, summer has gone by quite quickly and we are experiencing many changes in our building.  We have welcomed many new families and are extremely happy to have you here!  Please remember that you are welcome any time; my door is always open and we communicate a lot via Constant Contact emails and information in your child's mailbox.  Please be sure to check both often.  We have also said goodbye to many families and children who have been with us for a very long time.  One of the most important aspects of a high quality early childhood program is the relationships that are built between the teachers, children and families.   It is those relationships that make it so difficult to say goodbye!  But we know that children are ready and eager to continue on their journey and that they will do well in whatever environment they are in when they leave. 

We are also in the midst of many classroom transitions, which seem to be going extremely well for most of our children and families.  Transition time can also be a tough time for children and families so it's important that you ask your classroom teachers anything that you are unsure about.  We are more than happy to answer questions, share more information, and chat about your concerns.  As a parent of a child who just went to college for her freshman year, I'm empathetic to trying to understand what so many new things will mean for a family and how hard you must work to put things into perspective! 


Enjoy the onset of autumn and wonderful things that this time of year has to offer - have some fun, make new memories and treasure every moment.  Time truly does go quick.  Babies become toddlers, toddlers become preschoolers and before you know it, you're saying goodbye at the door of a new school!  Exciting and frightening. 


Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom
Preschool Four


Taking walks around the neighborhood of UCDC is a common occurrence in Preschool Four.  Not only are walks a way to exercise our muscles and to get some much needed fresh air and enjoy the outdoors, but they also help children to feel connected to the larger community around us.  The children begin to identify and look forward to seeing familiar landmarks with each walk.  They look forward to revisiting the large stegosaurus that lives in one neighbor's yard.   They can't wait to see how many spider webs blanket the bushes that we have accurately named the "spider web bushes."  And they always look forward to feeling the bumpy old tree.  Their senses are alive with feeling, seeing, and hearing all of the many things that are capturing their attention both from nature and the community.


The teachers have found a way to make some of our walks both a teacher and child lead activity.  We have given the children a chance to use cameras to capture images on the walk that they find meaningful.  For some children this may be something that intrigues them in nature.  For other children it may be an interesting building or truck that they spotted along the way.  By allowing children to creatively express themselves through photography we are giving them the message that their ideas are valued and important to us.  We understand that they can appreciate things that are found to be beautiful and interesting to them.


All of the photographs are carefully named by the children and displayed for everyone to see.  The children are always proud of their work!


Family Focus


We are very excited for the new newsletter format! We worked hard to create a newsletter that everyone will love. As part of the new design, we are seeking a more interactive newsletter that highlights all of UCDC (staff, children, teachers and families). In this section, we will ask a different question to families each month and highlight some of the answers the following month. 


So, the first question is...


How did you spend your Labor Day weekend with your family?


Please email your responses to jmw170@pitt.edu.



School Choice:
Winchester Thurston


Navigating the number of school choices that are available in the Pittsburgh area for your child can be a daunting task. There are so many private, magnet, and charter school choices out there. In our newsletter, we plan to highlight one school a month in order to help inform the families. UCDC does not endorse the schools that are highlighted in this section - we are only offering the vast choices that are available to families. A great resource for finding your options is the website, Great Schools


Winchester Thurston

Winchester Thurston is a nationally recognized, coeducational, independent school, with a Pre-K - 12 campus in Shadyside. WT has been named a leader among college preparatory independent schools for innovative teaching, gifted and talented education, and distinctive campus settings. In WT's Lower School, exploration and active engagement are the tools by which a developmentally appropriate curriculum addresses diverse learning styles, exposing children to different ways of expression and experimentation. In recognition of WT's excellence in Chinese studies and strong community outreach, China's Ministry of Education has named WT a Confucius Classroom school.

Spotlight on Staff

The new newsletter format will include one question asked to all staff at UCDC. We will highlight some of the answers in order to help parents and families get to know everyone at UCDC a little bit better.


This month's question was...


What was the most exciting thing that you did this summer?


  • Spent four days in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee with my husband, children and grandchildren.  Priceless! - Marlene Schenck, Business Manager
  • Survived high school graduation and sent my baby to college! - Mary Beth McCulloch, Director
  • Getting Married!!!!  Wahooooooo - Jennifer Pezzula, Substitute Teacher
  • Exciting for me was enjoying a long-awaited family vacation- canoeing, swimming, hiking, lots of outdoor time! - Lynda Stiger, Associate Teacher in Toddler One
  • This summer I was able to vacation in New York City for a week. I went to see the musical "Beautiful" about Carole King and got to meet the cast including Jessie Mueller who won the Tony Award this year.  The next night I went to see Denzel Washington and a stellar cast in "A Raisin in the Sun."   Other celebrity sightings: Anne Hathaway was sitting two rows in front of me and Bernadette Peters was in the row behind! - Cathy Baier, Head Teacher in Preschool Three
  • I kayaked in the Manahawkin Bay, Long Beach Island, NJ on my vacation. Was anxious to try kayaking again and survived without falling out! - Lindsay Hollinger, Head Teacher in Toddler One
  • We took Christopher on the Mountain Coaster at Deep Creek Lake!  Soooo much fun! - Ammie Ribarchak, Head Teacher in Preschool One
  • I got to attend Steeler camp (an annual tradition for me) get autographs and see the rookies up close.  If Roethlisberger goes down, we are in trouble! - Shelley Martin, Head Teacher in Infant Three
  • We traveled up to Massachusetts to spend time with my childhood best friend and her family. We had an amazing time exploring beaches, kayaking, and eating delicious foods. We also survived a total of 27 hours in the car with three children!!! - Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
Monthly Family Gathering
Each month, UCDC picks a family friendly location for families to meet and spend time together. UCDC teachers or staff may or may not attend, but this is a time for families to get to know each other and explore the city. UCDC will not host the event, but will just suggest a date, time, and location for families to spend time together.

For the first date, we will choose Frick Park at Blue Slide Playground (located near the corner of Beechwood Boulevard and English Lane). 

Whoever is interested in meeting for a UCDC playdate, bring your snacks and children to Blue Slide Playground on Saturday, October 25th at 10:00 am (weather permitting). 
News to Know

You may have noticed:


New tables and benches on the playground.  We were able to purchase these lovely new additions to the playground through funds raised from the Staff Appreciation Dinner.  You may also have  noticed our new mud kitchen located on the gazebo.  Many thanks to Jamie and Katie O.  for sanding and finishing the equipment to be used outdoors.  The children are having a great time exploring with mud and water, and thinking creatively while using these materials.


New room arrangements and materials in classrooms.  During our August Professional Development Day, teachers were given an opportunity to spend time working together in their classrooms to create a more aesthetically pleasing classroom.  Some teams chose to create new spaces with familiar materials, some chose to order new items to enhance their existing space, and some chose to manage storage and organization, all while thinking about the needs of the children and families enrolled in the classrooms. The teachers spend a lot of time making sure that our home-like, welcoming philosophy extends to each classroom so that transitions are easier and everyone feels comfortable.  They did outstanding work on PDD! 


A new CMU building on Clyde Street (aptly named Clyde House).  Thank you for your patience and understanding during some traffic and construction issues.  The project seems to have come to an end so mornings should be a little easier.


New morning and afternoon students:  Please take a moment to say hello to our new student assistants that will be working in classrooms.  As is customary, new semesters bring some returning students and new students that are hired to assist in classrooms.  Students attend a thorough orientation and are supervised by classroom staff.  They make a lovely addition to the classroom team and we are happy to have them here!


Other news to know:


We will begin to welcome observation students into our classrooms.  I have confirmed three visits with instructors from Experimental Child Psychology, Honors Developmental Psychology and Child Development.  These students will complete a variety of hours in infant, toddler or preschool classrooms.  Some observations will take place from our observation booths and others will happen directly in the classroom.


Additionally, we will be hosting the Introduction to Early Childhood Education class here at UCDC on Thursday evenings from 4:30-7:10.  The students and their instructor will hold the class in our staff lounge and will also spend time in classroom booths and classrooms.  This is an invaluable opportunity for the students and we look forward to being able to support their learning experiences as they learn about young children and high quality child care.


Stay tuned for other information and news in our next newsletter!


UCDC Philosophy Explained: 
What Curriculum Do You Use at UCDC?

By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
Child with truck and dog


Educational outcomes are a hot topic and the pressure to "achieve" is being pushed down to our youngest children. Tests are commonplace amidst most kindergartens today and the kindergarten curriculum is very similar to what first graders were expected to achieve just a few short years ago.


At UCDC, we want to protect play as we believe that this is how children learn best. We believe learning happens through active, hands-on self-discovery. We also strongly believe that children learn best when they are the captains of their own learning. Therefore, we do not follow a boxed curriculum at UCDC. Instead, we follow the children. It looks a little bit like this...


A toddler classroom sets out for a walk around the neighborhood only to be abruptly stopped by a very interesting road construction project. What may be a nuisance to the typical road traveler can be a beautiful learning experience for a child. The teachers are trained to notice this spiked interest of the children and they may forgo their entire walk and choose to stay at the construction site to watch the workers. The teachers will use this opportunity to teach the children language (label the machines used, discuss what the workers are doing, etc), engage them in a social studies lesson (community workers), or challenge their math skills (count the number of trucks, tools, workers, etc.). When this class returns from their "failed" walk, the teachers will then extend this theme into the classroom curriculum. She may bring trucks into the block area or add small tools to the sand table. During group time, she might also teach the children a new song about construction workers.


As you can see, the curriculum at UCDC happens very naturally for the children. For the teachers, they are constantly altering, creating, researching, and planning based on interests and individual children's needs. The result is beautiful. The children are learning what interests them and the teachers are planning based on the children.

Did You Know?


When baking with children at UCDC, we substitute whole wheat flour for white flour.


Preschool Wisdoms


Preschool One children answer the question...


What is the most important thing in the world?

  • My house
  • The zoo
  • Elephants
  • Go trick-or-treating with my princess dress and holding baby Minnie
  • Picking up trash
  • Exercise
  • Building houses

Markers on Hands 7.11UCDC utilizes a child centered, extended family approach that is fostered by supporting the developmental needs of all children. We foster children's self esteem, creative abilities, sense of belonging and success by implementing a developmentally appropriate curriculum based on NAEYC and Keystone STARS standards, through a play-based approach to learning. We support families and partner with them to provide an environment that welcomes their collaboration and supports both cultural and family preferences.