Nineteen years ago Kate Welling was a curious, adventurous two-year-old, a tenacious problem solver who was enthusiastic about all activities presented to her in the classroom, said her first teacher at Sarah Lawrence College’s Early Childhood Center, Lorelle Phillips. Last Friday the ECC’s playground was named for Kate who tragically lost her life in 2005.
In the dedication read by Sara Wilford, director of the College’s Art of Teaching program and former director of the Early Childhood Center, Kate was remembered. “Kate became a young adult with the attributes we wish for all our students as they grow into adolescence and adulthood: compassion, fairness and courage.”
Honoring Kate’s humanity and remembering the nursery school that contributed to her growth as an individual who “loved life and embraced differences”, her parents, Helen and Thomas Welling, have established the Kate Welling Memorial Scholarship enabling children who would not otherwise be able to attend the Early Childhood Center. Support for the scholarship fund has come from family and friends, many from the Bronxville community.
Sarah Lawrence College’s Early Childhood Center has been an important part of the College’s academic program since its inception in 1937. The ECC provides undergraduate students of developmental psychology and graduate students in the art of teaching and child development programs an opportunity to observe theory in practice. Their presence in the classroom is what makes the Center unique—and special to the children. The college students become completely integrated into the life of the classroom, sharing their love of learning, forming relationships by reading to the children, encouraging them in their art projects and discussing the children’s interests with them.
As Michele Myers, president of the College, said in her remarks at the dedication, the ECC is one of the central points of contact between the College and the surrounding community reflecting many of the same educational principals of the College.