MTSU lab celebrates 30 years of caring for kids

MTSU lab celebrates 30 years of caring for kids

MTSU Child Care Lab Director Nancy James poses with her sons, MTSU sophomore Preston, left, and Watertown High School sophomore Brandon, during the lab's recent 30th anniversary celebration. Both young men are alumni of the Child Care Lab. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

The Child Care Lab at MTSU recently celebrated its 30th year of serving young children whose parents attend or work at the University.

Thirty-two children ages 3 to 5 are enrolled at the facility, which is classified by the state of Tennessee’s Department of Health and Human Services with its highest “3-Star Program” status. Some attend every day, while others attend two or three days a week. A modest weekly fee includes a hot lunch and two snacks each day for each child.

HHS sets forth the criteria and evaluates day care centers across Tennessee. The MTSU facility has earned the 3-Star status since its inception.

“We were especially honored to have former MTSU President Sam Ingram and his wife, Lynette, attend the ceremony,” said Nancy James, the lab director since 1988. “It was during his tenure that the lab began and has continued with the two-fold mission that he requested 30 years ago—to provide quality care for preschoolers so their parents can attend class and/or work on campus, and to provide a laboratory setting for various departments to use for research and observations.”

James noted how grateful the lab’s teachers and children are to the women of MTSU “who brought the idea of child care to the forefront,” including retired educational-leadership professor Jan Hayes and retired dyslexia services teacher Dr. Janet Camp and the late Dr. June Anderson, a chemistry professor. “The lab was dedicated to Dr. Anderson in 1984,” James added.

Lead teacher Zona Frazier has worked in the MTSU Child Care Lab for 26 years.

“Coming here every day and greeting the children with a smile is the joy for me,” she said. “My living won’t be in vain if I’m here helping them. It makes me happy.”

“We give priority to the children,” added Anita Nicholson, another teacher, who has served in that role since 2001. “It gives parents peace of mind to put their child in a quality-care program where they can also be close, drop by and see them throughout the day. We strive to make this a good place for children.”

James thanked MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Dr. Debra Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services, for their continued encouragement and support.

“It is rewarding to see these children grow to be healthy, happy and productive citizens and, best of all, future Blue Raiders,” James said.

For more information on the MTSU Child Care Lab, call 615-898-2970.

— Tom Tozer (