November 2014
University Child 
Development Center

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

Director's Corner




As we enter into the month of November, changes are very evident in all of the classrooms.  Not only have the ages changed in most rooms, but the dynamics of the group will likely have changed as well as children transition out and new children transition in.  This time of the year is a prime time to build a community in each classroom; one in which children are accepted, acknowledged and appreciated.  In addition to creating connections with individual children, early childhood educators can strengthen another aspect of relationships: what has been called a "Caring Community of Learners" (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997).


At UCDC, we have long recognized that the relationships that develop between children and teachers are at the heart of what we do and how children learn.  Through a caring community, children are not only supported, but encouraged to express themselves, try new things, engage with familiar and unfamiliar children and adults, and feel welcomed into the 'community' that exists in their classroom.   Not only should children feel that they belong, they should also be able to contribute and grow at their level and in a way that is respectful to their age, their culture and in a way that reflects the environment that they are in daily. Building a community starts with small actions; modeling by the adults, identifying children's interests and talents, and teaching children how to listen and contribute.  Teachers will also work on collaborative activities and group projects that strengthen the ties in the community.  Creating shared rituals also supports the ever growing and changing community.    These approaches will continue and grow throughout the year, culminating in the children showing enthusiasm about learning and developing strong and supportive relationships within the community, all of which supports our philosophical approach at UCDC!


Have a lovely month,


Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom: Autumn
Toddler Three


Toddler Three has been making the most of the beautiful, chilly autumn weather. Crisp playground playtime and breezy, colorful walks have given the children many things to experience with their senses and discuss with their friends and teachers.  Lately, the toddlers have been interested in the vibrant colors, crunching leaves, and changing weather.  


In keeping with UCDC's child-centered philosophy, we acknowledge and support these interests and provide opportunities for extended learning throughout our days.  Together, we've gone on an autumnal journey.  


Upon experiencing the textures and colors outside, the children utilized a variety of artistic mediums, techniques, and colors to bring the season into our classroom, as well.  During group time, they read books, dance, and sing songs about cool weather, squirrels, and crunchy leaves.  Outside time is a chance to explore and collect specimens (leaves, acorns, etc.) from the ever-changing environment.  Their questions and interests guide the curriculum:  "I'm chilly." "I miss the sun."  "Why are the leaves starting to be red?"  Toddler Three continues on its journey, referring to their big calendar to discuss the month and date, then linking this information to their adjacent weather charts.  They form hypotheses ("I think that it will maybe be cloudy/windy/etc. today.") and make connections ("The leaves are soft because of the rain and wet.") These opportunities and connections foster independent critical thinking skills, provide a platform for sharing and negotiation, and create an engaging, flexible environment in which children can question their surroundings, test their theories, and explore their interests in safe, meaningful ways.


School Choice:
The Campus School of Carlow University


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

The Campus School of Carlow University is an independent, coeducational, Catholic day school for Pre-Kindergarten through grade eight, and a Montessori program for preschool through grade 3 located on the campus of Carlow University.


We are now accepting applications for the 2015/2016 school year.


Join us for a group tour on Tuesday or Thursday mornings.  Private tours can be arranged as needed. Please call 412-578-6158 or 412-578-6368 for more information or visit our website


Spotlight on Staff


What is/was your favorite family tradition?

  • Favorite tradition..... Seven fishes on Christmas Eve.  It's an Italian family tradition. - Jennifer Pezzula, Morning Substitute
  • Hands down, going to Penguin hockey games since I was a newborn baby! - Lindsay Hollinger, Head Teacher in Toddler One
  • Mealtimes have always been the center of family traditions in my family.  We would all get together at my grandmother's house on Sundays for dinner and this could include upwards to 30 people each time.  The door was never closed to anyone and we all often brought our friends to join in on the feast.  Now that my grandmother is no longer with us, the tradition has continued on at my mother's house and she is always cooking for what we like to say is an army.  I love that Christopher, my son, is getting the opportunity to experience these family meal times and hopefully the tradition will continue on through his life and his extended family.  It definitely keeps the family bonds strong! - Ammie Ribarchak, Head Teacher in Preschool One
  • The most memorable family tradition (and favorite) of our kids is making Gingerbread Houses at Christmastime every year. The adults construct the houses ahead of time and then our children and their cousins are given icing and every kind of candy at their disposal. They typically work on these for over an hour (and some of the older children do themed houses which take much longer than an hour). They are so proud of their tasty work at the end of this experience! - Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
  • When I was a child in the summer, everyone would get in the car and my Dad drove us to Latrobe to get ice cream.  It was such a long drive and everyone was excited talking about what kind of ice cream they would get.  There were five or six children depending on who got into the car each time.  I came from a family of eight children.  I see this spot now and laugh that my Dad would drive so far, but I think it was how he contained all of us.  Maureen Sahr, Head Teacher, Toddler Two
  • My favorite family tradition was when we always got to open one gift on Christmas Eve. -Heidi Kalsani, Head Teacher, Infant One
  • Our favorite family tradition is going with my husbands whole family to cut down a Christmas tree (like the Grizwalds!). After countless hours of searching in the bitter cold and getting lost in the woods, we go back to the farmhouse shop for hot cocoa and hot dogs.  All kidding aside, it really is a memory that I hope will continue for generations!  - Joy Tomasic, Assistant Teacher, Toddler Two
  •  My nephew is a die-hard Lego fan!  Everytime the LegoFest comes to town, I take him and we make a day of it.  It's amazing what they can do with those Legos!  It's a great time for us to bond and share our love of Legos! - Shelley Martin, Head Teacher, Infant Three
  • My favorite family tradition is when the whole family gets together on Christmas Eve...going to Church together, having a wonderful dinner, opening presents and hiding/finding the special icicle angel on the tree which meant you got an extra special present. - Cathy Baier, Head Teacher, Preschool Three


Monthly Family Gathering:
Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
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.

This month, we'd like to suggest meeting at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium on Saturday, November 15th at 10:00 am. This is also the Polar Bear Birthday Party (from 11:00-3:00), which offers children's activities as part of the admission price. If you'd like to join in this monthly gathering, please meet just inside the gates of the zoo at 10:00 am in order to spend time with other UCDC families.



News to Know
  •  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. 
  • Save the Date for UCDC's Annual Staff Appreciation Dinner. The dinner will be held on Friday, May 29th, 2015 at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center. More details to follow!
  • Student observations continue in preschool classrooms during the month of November.

  • UCDC will receive their Keystone STARS pre-designation visit on November 24th.

  • The librarian from the Carnegie Library will visit toddler and preschool classrooms on November 19th. 

  • UCDC will be closed for Professional Development Day on Wednesday, November 26th as well as Thursday, November 27th and Friday, November 28th (Thanksgiving Recess).

  • A new literacy research project will begin in the older preschool classrooms.

  • Please welcome Moriah Wolfe to Infant Four as their new Assistant Teacher. 

  • New door handles have been installed on classrooms and observation booth doors, although our rooms will always remain unlocked.

  • A new card reader has been installed at our front door. The card will now face the opposite direction in order to swipe in. PLEASE use your card daily in order to enter into our building!

UCDC Philosophy Explained:
Creating Secure Attachments
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator


Parent Question: Why do infants and toddlers stay in a classroom together for such a long time while preschoolers move each year?


At UCDC, we strongly believe in creating an environment in which children feel safe and secure. In the developmental phases of infancy and toddlerhood, having a long-term, primary caregiver is of utmost important to healthy, optimal development. All young children need consistency and routine, but we know that infants and toddlers thrive when they have a strong bond with at least one caring and attentive person. These babies learn to develop and maintain secure attachment relationships when given this opportunity. Also, since we know it takes an infant and/or toddler a long time to form a secure attachment, we provide this through extended stays in the infant and toddler classrooms. That is why our infants and toddlers stay together for 18 months as opposed to one year as in the preschool classrooms.


When a child becomes a preschooler, they become much more independent and their focus starts to change from primarily seeking the attention of adults to a strong interest in peer interactions. They are much less dependent on adults for their every need as seen in infants and toddlers and forming attachments to caregivers and peers happens much more quickly. Therefore, our preschoolers stay in the same classroom for one year before moving to the next peer group. 

Did You Know?


Did you know that UCDC staff spent a recent Saturday at a PAEYC conference to be inspired to become better teachers of young children? The theme of the conference was "Inviting Ideas, Inspiring Innovation."


Preschool Wisdoms

Preschool Two responds to the question...


What makes you the happiest?

  • When my mom takes me for ice cream.
  • When my mom and dad take me to the museum.
  • I like when my daddy gets a medal.
  • I like to go high when I go on a swing.
  • I like to share with my cousins.
  • I like going shopping with my mom and dad.
  • When my mommy and daddy take me to the Science Center.
  • When my brother lets me watch a movie with him.
  • I like when my mom takes me to the movies.
  • A kiss and a hug.
  • I like it when my mommy and daddy take me to Niagara Falls.
  • When my dad plays with us in my room.
  • Going to the beach with my mommy.
  • When my daddy reads me a story.
  • When my mom and dad take me to the beach and everywhere.
  • Love
  • My family
It's interesting to see the underlying theme of the answers to this question. It's all about family - remember, will always mean the most to them!
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.