December 2014
University Child 
Development Center

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

Director's Corner



As another year quickly comes to an end, I count my blessings and think about how thankful I am for so many things. I'm also reminded of how lucky and fortunate I am in the grand scheme of things. 

The world today can be a scary place.  Children are exposed to things that they would have known nothing about years ago.  The information highway is a fast paced, ever changing frenzy of activity.  People seem to move faster, expect more, and forgive less.  Children are expected to grow up much quicker.  Mastering skills and learning faster seems to be valued much more than individual approaches and developing at one's own pace.  It seems that the days of idle playing and imagination are becoming less and less for children.  

 Although, t
he world can also be a kind place where people help each other, rise to the occasion, pitch in and share what they have.  We see this often in Pittsburgh and at the University.  I often hear about how kind and helpful and friendly people are in Pittsburgh.  Being kind, generous, and patient are qualities that are so important to foster at a young age.  Raising children who are tolerant and service-minded will help to make the world a less scary place when our children have children and things in the world take on an even faster pace. 

This holiday season and throughout the year, take a moment to thank those who have helped you and take a moment to help others.  Encourage your children to be generous, kind and giving.  Teach them that more and bigger does not always mean better.  Togetherness, family, friends, and supporting one another has much more value in the big picture.  The world can be a better place for us and for children if we all consider the part we play in creating a kinder world.

Best wishes for a wonderful new year,

Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom: Making the Most of Seasonal Opportunities

By: Toddler One


 On one of the last beautiful autumn days, the Toddler 1 classroom took our typical walk onto Devonshire Street.  As we proceeded, we were struck by how many leaves were falling and how many had collected on the ground.  As children began to kick them up, the teachers were inspired to create a sensory activity for them based on their displayed interest. Finding an enclosed space on three sides and with the teachers positioned to prevent any wayfarers, we, as a group, gathered up the leaves in piles for children to jump/roll into.  Some chose to recline onto the ground and became enthused to have "leaf blankets" made by peers to cover them. Other children laughingly tried to catch the leaves which were being tossed into the air, while some attempted to capture those gently drifting down from the trees.  

Children formulated their own activity by gathering up the strewn leaves, placing them amongst the bushes, sticking some in between and on top of them.  Their arrangement formed an enchanting design in which the bushes seemed to have blossomed with autumnal glory! Some children simply focused on the leaves, noting to teachers the many variations of size, color and formation through language and gestures.  We also collected them to laminate; photos were taken and given to families, both of these actions utilized as a reference point for a treasured memory at home and the classroom.


Allowing children the opportunity to organize their play by giving them the time/space to be motivated by their own interests is fundamental to process-oriented learning; play simply exists for play's sake.  With such a focus, both individualized and group discovery was possible as imaginations could flourish without constraints.  The beauty of the season became apparent, real and memorable. 

School Choice:
The Ellis School


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 


Kindergarten at The Ellis School provides girls with nurturing, stimulating active learning experiences. Classes are small, with just 20 students to 3 teachers in 2014-15. Girls are guided and supported as they explore reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, and develop skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and adaptability. Teachers use a broad range of instructional strategies and differentiated activities. Kindergartners collaborate in small and large groups to solve problems using real-world data and apply their knowledge in meaningful ways.


Please visit their website or call 412-661-4880. Serving all girls age 3 to grade 12.

Spotlight on Staff


What is your favorite holiday food?
  • Peanut Butter Buckeyes! - Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
  • So many to choose from! I'd say that my favorite is holiday cookies and nutroll! - Cathy Baier, Preschool Three Head Teacher
  • Gotta be the cookies! - Marlene Schenck, Business Manager
  • Hershey's Kisses are the best way to celebrate whether it is a holiday or an accomplishment. - Maureen Sahr, Toddler Two Head Teacher
  • Stuffing! - Lindsay Hollinger, Toddler One Head Teacher
  • We do the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. Squid, smelts, calamari, shrimp, salmon, halibut, anchovies. Some fishes are prepared three different ways so we end up with more than ten dishes. - Jennifer Pezzula, Morning Substitute Teacher
  • I love to relax with a cup of holiday tea and some delicious homemade Christmas cookies. - Claudia Geisler, Preschool Four Head Teacher 


UCDC Philosophy Explained: Volunteering
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator


At UCDC, we have an open door policy for parents. That means that parents are welcome to visit the Center at any point during the day to visit the classroom or observe from the observation booth. A parent of an infant may come several times a day to nurse their baby while a preschool parent may come to share a favorite story with the group. We welcome parents to join us on walks, play on the playground, share lunch or snack, and spend time with their child in the classroom. We love spending time with the parents that shape the amazing children in this Center and invite you to spend the time that you are able. We do not require parents to volunteer as we know that life with young children is very busy and we don't want to add anything additional to your already busy schedules.


As a courtesy, we do ask that if you plan to come to read a book or share a special talent, make sure you discuss this with the Head Teacher of your child's classroom so she is able to approve the book/activity and choose the best time for this activity to occur. Also, if you are interested in joining your child for lunch, please let the classroom know in advance so that we can order you a lunch (we have vegetarian options!).

Did You Know?


Did you know that two of our preschool teachers recently returned from a visit to Korea? Each year in the winter, we host students from Duksung Women's University in Korea. As part of this exchange, two of our teachers were invited to spend ten days there. They spent their time sightseeing, presenting, and visiting early education centers.    

Preschool Wisdoms
Whose Shoes?

The children of Preschool Three were asked the question...


What is the hardest part about being a child?


Here are some of their answers:

  • Clean my room.
  • Mommy telling me what to do.
  • Putting shoes on is very hard.
  • Going to sleep.
  • I just can't nap at school.  It's hard for me.  
  • I always get hurt cause I run really fast.


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.