By Kayla Tucker – Managing Editor
Ground was broken this morning at the site of Grand Rapids Community College’s new preschool lab.
The preschool is being built where the Barclay lot currently sits and will be dedicated to Phyllis Fratzke, founder of GRCC’s Childhood Development Program in the 1970s and the lab preschool in 1974.
According the Fratzke, in the late 1960s into the early 1970s women were attending GRCC, but many had the same issue of finding someone to watch their children while they took classes. Fratzke, who had this similar problem, worked as an interior design teacher at the time and decided to take on the idea of a lab preschool. Meanwhile, the child development field was growing and becoming more hands-on.
“I was trying to find spaces for the students to do their lab experiences, … (and) I was trying to find places for the children to attend classes,” Fratzke said. Anne Mulder, former dean at GRCC, told Fratzke that their only solution was to start their own preschool.
The pre-school began in a church with one director, two teachers, and 23 children. Now the preschool is open all year round.
“Needless to say this is a very emotional day for me,” Fratzke said. “It’s something I started over 40 years ago. My dream finally came true.”
The building is going to act as a “community hub,” reaching out to and serving the locals.
“We look forward to providing support to parents…to help them to best meet the educational needs of the children in their care,” said Rebecca Brinks, Program Director of Childhood Development and Education.
Erica Harris graduated from GRCC in 2009 after going through the Childhood Development program and has worked at the lab preschool for six years, where her three-year-old twin daughters Eve and Chanel also attend.
“It’s one of the greatest centers to go to,” Harris said. “The kids are really learning there and the teachers are very supportive. And my kids have a great time there.”
Ender stressed thanks to the community donors for all the financial support.
“This (preschool) has really been built on the shoulders of our community and our college is really grateful for that support,” Ender said.
More information on prices and preschool registration can be found at http://www.grcc.edu/preschoolprogram/centerinformation