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Million dollar gift establishes endowed directorship and support fund for WVU Nursery School

Million dollar gift establishes endowed directorship and support fund for WVU Nursery School

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The West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services has received a $1 million gift, the largest single private donation ever made to the college, to support the WVU Child Development Laboratory, better known as the WVU Nursery School.

The gift, from donors who wish to remain anonymous, will support an endowed named directorship and an endowed enhancement fund. The directorship will support Dr. Barbara Gibson Warash, providing a broad range of support for research, teaching and service. The enhancement fund will provide funds to broadly support the educational and training mission of the WVU Nursery School.

“We are extremely grateful for this support to our college, specifically our Nursery School and Dr. Warash,” stated Dr. Gypsy Denzine, Dean of the WVU College of Education and Human Services. “This gift allows our program to continue to have not only a local, but national impact in the development of outstanding early childhood professionals. We strive to be the leader in early childhood education in the state of West Virginia and beyond, and this gift will help us to achieve this goal.”

The WVU Nursery School was established in 1944 as part of the Division of Home Economics in the College of Agriculture. Now a part of the Department of Learning Sciences and Human Development, the school supports the philosophy that the early years are formative years and the most important in children’s development. The school provides observational, practicum, and student teaching experiences for WVU students majoring in child development and family studies, particularly Pre-K education, and other fields, as well as trainings and other opportunities to the community.

According to Dr. Reagan Curtis, Chair of the Department of Learning Sciences and Human Development, this gift will allow students, staff, and faculty who work within the WVU Nursery School to create, research, and improve innovative practices that can be developed and applied not only at the school, but also in the greater early childhood education community.

“We have supported early childhood programs for many years. We believe that providing kids with an early start gives them a better chance to succeed. The WVU Nursery School is an impressive program and it was evident to us that there is a strong commitment from the instructors and students,” the donors said. “We want to support the preschool to help continue a program that looked so promising.”

The donors did not graduate from WVU nor are they native to or residents of West Virginia, but rather they were connected to our program through a relationship with a WVU graduate and Weston, native, Dr. Vicci Tucci. More than 40 years ago, Tucci established the Competent Learner Model based on her study of applied behavior analysis.

Through their connection with Tucci, the donors began to support research here at WVU, specifically that done by the late Dr. Daniel Eugene Hursh. Hursh’s research focused on implementing CLM into general education settings with appropriate modification, because the model was initially designed for special education.

“I remember well our first visit to the WVU Nursery School and meeting Dr. Bobbie Warash,” the donor said. “We were so impressed by her and Dr. Hursh’s efforts to use the Competent Learner Model with regular students.”

Warash, along with Curtis, Hursh and Tucci, published a paper in the Journal of Research in Childhood Education, “Skinner Meets Piaget on the Reggio Playground: Practical Synthesis of Applied Behavior Analysis and Developmentally Appropriate Practice Orientations.” Their research was supported by the donors’ early donations to the college and left a lasting impression.

The donors shared their joy in being able to support students who are committed to the field of early childhood education, knowing these students would benefit from such a well-established program.

“We could not be more appreciative of this gift and continued commitment to our program. Our research has received national recognition and has only prepared us to better serve our students,” Warash stated. “We continually research and try new things at the WVU Nursery School. We want to identify best practices for getting kids interested in learning at a young age.”

The gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University which runs through December 2017.



CONTACT: Amy Lutz; Director of Advancement, WVU College of Education and Human Services;

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