Maxwell alumna Phaedra Stewart ’91 finds it difficult to look at the world without seeing opportunities to connect with people, raise their spirits and empower them to make their lives better. A self-described serial entrepreneur (some might say a serial…
Alumna’s generosity brings culture to children
Alumna’s generosity brings culture to childrenMay 29, 2003Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Over the past two years, children from Syracuse University’s Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School in the College of Human Services and Health Professions (HSHP) have experienced many new things far beyond the walls of the school building. They have visited museums and apple orchards, worked with an artist and attended a concert with members of the Syracuse Symphony.
The field trips that enable these students to learn more about the world around them have been made possible through the generosity of alumna Joanne Kerbs Mudd. Last year, she donated $25,000 to the college to establish the Joanne K. Mudd Cultural Development Fund.
“At the time I was interested in making a donation to the college, a few ideas were presented to me. One idea was focused on the arts and cultural enrichment,” says Mudd, a child therapist and 1969 graduate of the former College for Human Development. “It was easy for me to get excited at the thought of the children visiting museums, hearing music from around the world, and having fun in the process. Early childhood experiences and learning are powerful and lasting. I am just so grateful that I’ve been able to do this.”
“This money has allowed us to expand upon the experiences children have everyday in their classroom with art, music and movement,” says Daria Webber, the Bernice M. Wright School’s director. “One of our goals as early childhood educators is to provide children with activities that will support and help develop an aesthetic awareness and appreciation of the world around them.
The laboratory school is a high quality, developmentally appropriate inclusive early childhood education program with a three-fold mission: to provide an optimal early childhood setting for the community, provide teacher training and to conduct research that adds to the body of knowledge about children, families and early childhood education. The school, operated through HSHP’s Department of Child and Family Studies, involves 20-25 undergraduate student teachers each semester in the education of 80-100 community children and families.
Last year, Mudd’s grant supported trips to the Everson Museum of Art, Museum of Science and Technology, Open Hand Puppet Theater, Beak and Skiff Apple Orchard in LaFayette and Critz Farms pumpkin patch in Cazenovia. The fund also supports the school’s bi-weekly “Toddlers Tango,” a program for preschool children that integrates world music and instruments into a music and movement program.
This year’s theme has been art and music. On March 31, the students participated in a “Symphony Kids” concert, where they listened to and learned from four members of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Other projects included a visit to the Center of Ballet and Dance Arts, as well as working with a visiting artist to construct a fountain that to be placed in the school’s entranceway.
“All of these experiences provide children with the opportunity to enhance their artistic and creative development, while becoming aware of the many ways in which people choose to display their creativity, and to respect and appreciate the differences,” Webber says. “Our children at Bernice M. Wright are a very diverse group, and we pride ourselves on providing a program that helps children to celebrate the differences.”