ADA, Okla. – Chickasaw Nation officials celebrated progress in education programs as they cut the ribbon on a unique child development center and an education administration building.
Each room in the 26,700-square-foot child development center is modeled after a familiar building, such as a fire station, movie theater, post office or candy store. Familiar nursery rhyme themes, such as “London Bridge,” “Jack and Jill” and “Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe,” are echoed in murals throughout the facility.
“This is much more than a day care center, it is a learning center,” said Bill Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation. “This center was designed based on the idea that imagination is a natural and important part of the learning and development process. Our goal is to inspire the imagination and make learning fun.”
Other unique features include large indoor play areas and entrance by a playground slide. Storm shelters are integrated into the facility.
“We developed every aspect of this center with children and parents in mind,” said Lisa John, administrator of the Division of Education. “This is a place where children will be excited to learn and parents will know that their children are in a safe, nurturing environment.”
SMART boards have been integrated into the center to give children an early introduction to computer technology. A SMART board is a giant computer touch screen that can be used to display interactive Web sites, educational software and games with live animation.
Students can control the computer applications directly from the white board, using a device similar to a marker to identify letters, numbers, colors and shapes. They can also spell words, work math problems and do more advanced hands-on learning activities.
“SMART boards fit into the overall theme of encouraging children to learn through hands-on activities,” John said. “This facility engages all the senses and helps children explore and understand the world while building confidence in a secure surrounding.”
With a staff of more than 60 childcare professionals, the center will provide year-round care to approximately 250 children from 6 weeks to 5 years of age.
A ribbon cutting for the Douglas H. Johnston Education Administration building was held following the one for the center. Johnston served as governor of the Chickasaw Nation for more than 40 years.
“Governor Johnston was a long time advocate of education for the Chickasaw people,” Anoatubby said. “We will work together to continue his vision.”
The Douglas H. Johnston building houses the Chickasaw Nation Division of Education, which includes Child Care, Head Start and Vocational Rehabilitation departments, among others.