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Students and staff look to add early learning center to Salisbury University

The results of the campus-wide survey on the question of the possible needs for early childcare center at Salisbury University are in, and the campus has spoken out that this is in fact a need.

The report of the results showed that the idea of an SU-affiliated early learning center here on campus has tremendous support behind it. Support was seen from staff and faculty as well as the student body.

As chair of Salisbury University Women’s Forum, Dr. Elsie Walker began efforts for the center back in spring of 2019, but she did not expect the kind of support the movement has been receiving.

“I had a hunch there would be a lot of support, but I was amazed at the amount of support and the number of responses we had,” Walker said. “It wasn’t news to me that faculty and staff would want to explore this possibility, but I wasn’t so aware of how many students would be positively impacted.”

Walker spoke about how not only did the survey receive a lot of support through the 1,200 responses, but it also drew attention from SU sophomore and Student Government Association Academic Affairs Director Sierra Smith-DiLeo.

Smith-DiLeo spoke about how former director Tram Nguyen had been focused on creating an ELC here on campus during her term as director, and those same aspirations had been passed down to the Smith-DiLeo, along with the title.

“It obviously falls into academic success for students, so that’s why I got interested in it,”

Smith-DiLeo said. “I reached out to anyone I could. I emailed so many people about just information if anyone had tried to do something before. I even looked at other programs.”

Walker also expressed that it had been repeatedly brought to the attention of the SUWF that the need for this type of program was great.

“The Salisbury University Women’s Forum has been receiving requests to explore this subject for years,” Walker said.

Smith-DiLeo expressed how she has seen firsthand the sheer importance of this program and the security it would provide for non-traditional students here at SU.

Smith-DiLeo has also received a number of individual requests expressing a need for a center on campus.

“There’s this one student who comes to all the grad school meetings and the very first question she asks any of the grad programs is about a childcare center on their campus,” Smith-DiLeo said. “That really stuck out to me because it’s not something I have to deal with, but hearing another student’s struggles really shows how much this is needed.”

The need for an ELC or a program like it has been established here at SU, and both Walker and Smith-DiLeo expressed how they believed that the university was lacking due to this program being missing from campus.

Walker spoke about the dreams that the SUWF has for the ELC if it does get approved by the executive board and the president.

“What we really want this facility to be is a place for superior learning and instruction," Walker said. "A place that entails the work experience that students need within the school of education and is overseen by mentors or experts in early learning.”

According to the report released to the student body on Nov. 13, the next steps of the process consist of patience in waiting for approval from SU's executive staff members.

“We just have to be patient; we are waiting," Walker said. "The executive staff has to weigh the project.”

Numbers have to be crunched and configurations about logistics made about whether or not SU could support an affiliated ELC. But one thing is certain: The ELC program has the support of the staff and faculty members as well as the SGA.

The goal is to foster a connection between campus and community, and Smith-DiLeo and Walker believe the ELC has the potential to do so.

“It could become an inspiring and meaningful connection between the university and the community,” Walker said.



Staff writer

Featured graphic by Amy Wojtowicz

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