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Viking Child Care Teacher Melissa Spring Receives National Award; Helps Students Become "Little Scientists"

MEDIA CONTACT: Eric Bryant (518) 629-8072,
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013

STEM might just be the biggest buzzword in education right now, and one Hudson Valley Community College Viking Child Care Center (VCC) teacher is making sure young minds are introduced to the concept of science, technology, engineering and math early on.

Earlier this year, VCC teacher Melissa Spring’s proposal “Science, Please!” received a $500 award from the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation and qualified her as one of just 50 recipients of the National Child Care Teacher Award. The Lokoff foundation provides grants to child care centers, child care teachers and providers to promote excellence in early childhood education.

Spring had submitted proposals for the foundation’s Teacher of the Year Award for two previous years, but the third time was the charm. “It was exciting that the proposal was accepted, especially considering the big pool of people who apply for this,” she said.

With the foundation award, she was able to purchase a variety of science-related items and quickly got to work. Her award-winning project aimed to introduce VCC’s four- and five-year-olds to science by creating a science lab in her classroom. The goal was to engage the children in thinking about science and its effect on the world around them. Weather, the change of seasons, magnetics, anatomy and life cycles are just a few of the topics the new lab space now helps children explore.

Spring, who has been teaching at Viking for seven years, said the benefits of the new science lab have exceeded her expectations.

“I am so pleased with how engaged the children have been. They are asking to play at the science table. I had expected to guide their thinking and help them generate ideas and thoughts, but their curiosity has been engaged and they ask their own valid and relevant questions,” she said. “I appreciate this opportunity to give the children in my classroom the resources to become little scientists.”

The Viking Child Care Center serves children between the ages of 6 weeks to 5 years old, is licensed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers 75 degree and certificate programs in four schools: Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Science; and Liberal Arts and Sciences; and an Educational Opportunity Center for academic and career training. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 13,000 students, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and workforce training. Hudson Valley has more than 75,000 alumni.