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AF's second-best CDC opens its doors

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Indyca, age 5, holds a rabbit named Black Sugar. Indyca is enrolled in the Schriever Child Development Center's child enrichment program, which teaches 5- and 6-year-old children basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Indyca, age 5, holds a rabbit named Black Sugar. Indyca is enrolled in the Schriever Child Development Center's child enrichment program, which teaches 5- and 6-year-old children basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Geneva Morse reads to a pre-toddler class in the Child Development Center here. The Schriever CDC has programs available for children 6 weeks to 6 years old. Ms. Morse is a CDC program assistant. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Geneva Morse reads to a pre-toddler class in the child development center here. The Schriever CDC has programs available for children 6 weeks to 6 years old. Ms. Morse is a CDC program assistant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Children from 6 weeks to 6 years old were the stars of the show at the Schriever Child Development Center's open house the morning of Sept. 22. 

The CDC, ranked second-highest among Air Force facilities by inspectors, held its second open house of the year to showcase its new enrichment program.

The open house was aimed at attracting more than just parents, said Thea Wasche, director of the 50th Services Division here. 

"We're also aiming for commanders, first sergeants and supervisors who've never been here to see what we have to offer," Ms. Wasche said. 

However, the enrichment program wasn't the only area of the facility that visitors toured. In the class for 3-year-old children, Rachel Perez taught Emily and William about different types of insects. 

"How do you pick up a ladybug?" Ms. Perez asked. "Do you pick it up by its legs?" 

"No," the children answered. 

"Do you pick it up by its wings?" 

"No!" 

"How do you pick up a ladybug? By the body?" Ms. Perez asked. The children both nodded. "That's right, by the body ... and after you're done playing with the ladybug, you put it back where you found it. Now, do you play with a bee?" 

"No, because it'll sting you," William said, punching the air to emphasize his point. 

Children learn how to get along with nature at the CDC. They also learn other languages. When Emily was asked to spell her name, she used sign language as she spelled "E-M-I-L-Y." 

The teachers provide some Spanish lessons as well. 

"They don't know that much Spanish, but they're learning," Ms. Perez said. "That way, they'll have a little more understanding, which is helpful because children sometimes fear what they don't understand." 

In the enrichment program's classroom, Indyca, age 5, was learning uppercase and lowercase letters. She had written the alphabet in uppercase and lowercase on a whiteboard, then erased the uppercase letters so she was left with only the lowercase ones. The enrichment program teaches 5- and 6-year-old children basic reading, writing and mathematics skills to prepare them for first grade.

Behind the desk at the main lobby, closed-circuit monitors showed what was going on in each classroom. The CDC archives recordings of classroom activities, even though Air Force instructions do not require it to do so. The system is designed to provide safety and security for parents, children and care providers, said Maricon Wales, CDC program director. 

Those sort of extra steps, along with staff members who are experts in providing a nurturing, safe environment for children, are factors in the CDC's excellence. The Schriever CDC is the best in Air Force Space Command, having received a 96.4-percent rating from inspectors during their last visit. The score also places the CDC as the second best in the Air Force. 

"You all run a very nice, professional place," said Col. Cal Hutto, 50th Space Wing commander, during a tour Friday morning. "You have a great team and a bunch of great children."

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