Child development center celebrates new teaching garden

It took education officials and parents six years to pull together the funds needed to build an instructional garden at the Glendale Community College Child Development Center.

It took the young beneficiaries just minutes to start putting it to good use.

“We already see the children gravitate to this area as soon as they come out here,” said Director Jeanette Tashiro.

On Monday, community members got a first look at the project, which includes a 4,500-square-foot “outdoor classroom” with raised planters, an art space and a sunken water feature.

Because the center is classified as a teaching site by the nonprofit Los Angeles Universal Preschool, the garden serves a dual purpose, stakeholders said.

“It is very significant that not only the children have the opportunity to have wonderful exposure to terrific structures and curriculum, but the teachers that are going to go out into the community see what best practices are,” said Rebecca Delfino, a parent of a former student at the center who was heavily involved in fundraising efforts.

Each day, the center serves about 75 children — ages 6 months to 8 years old. Any family can apply for a spot, and there is often a waiting list.

At the time it was built in 1990, the center was considered state-of-the-art, officials and parents said. But by the mid-2000s it no longer reflected up-to-date child development standards. The yard, for one, was almost completely covered with cement.

In 2004, the school’s parent group began setting aside money with the hope of one day building a new outdoor space. And a few years later, Los Angeles Universal Preschool provided a significant grant.

Work started in Sept. 2010 and wrapped up on Friday.

“We were able to do this project without calling upon the college for financial assistance…Just through the generosity of parents and going to the community and the child development experts we were able to put it together,” Delfino said.

FOR THE RECORD: This amends an earlier post that incorrectly stated that Los Angeles Universal Preschool was a county agency.

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