Early Childhood Education Center

Construction continues on the new $7.8 million LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center. A public open house showcasing the 19,900-square-foot facility is scheduled for Nov. 1, and children will move into the building the following week.

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney is accepting applications from parents who want their children to be part of the region’s premier early childhood education center.

UNK’s new LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center is nearing completion – a ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 8 – and parents can join the waiting list now by visiting unk.edu/plambeckcenter.

Located near the Village Flats residence hall in UNK’s University Village development – just south of U.S. Highway 30, across from West Center – the Early Childhood Education Center replaces UNK’s Child Development Center. It will serve a diverse population, with spots available for UNK students, staff and faculty, as well as families from the Kearney community.

A public open house showcasing the $7.8 million, 19,900-square-foot facility is scheduled for Nov. 1, and children will move into the building the following week. Additional classrooms will open as the waiting list, budget and staffing allow.

Named after longtime early childhood education advocate LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck of Omaha, the center features 11 classrooms led by teachers who will provide developmentally appropriate early education for up to 180 children from infant to age 6, including those with special needs. There are two infant classrooms, three toddler classrooms and six prekindergarten classrooms.

Each classroom will expose children to reading, writing, art, music, social and physical sciences and physical education, with both indoor and outdoor activities. Designated classrooms will use creative curriculum, building on children’s knowledge to develop confidence, creativity and critical-thinking skills, and other classrooms will use the Montessori teaching method, a student-centered approach that encourages exploration, independence and lifelong learning.

The Montessori classrooms are scheduled to open in fall 2020, giving UNK additional time to promote the program and recruit the best teachers.

Other benefits offered by the center include nutritious meals and snacks, family-engagement activities that encourage parents to participate in their child’s learning and collaboration with UNK and University of Nebraska Medical Center faculty and students in areas such as teacher education, family studies, nursing, physical therapy, social work, communication disorders, fine arts and psychology.

The center will operate 7 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Mondays through Fridays throughout the year. It will be closed on most state holidays, as well as the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and days when other UNK offices are closed by inclement weather or special circumstances.

UNK will also be hiring for part-time, full-time and student positions as the Early Childhood Education Center opens. Those positions will be posted on the center’s website as they become available.

For more information, contact Deborah Zuelow, director of the Early Childhood Education Center, at 308-865-1576 or zuelowd@unk.edu.

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