Gonzaga’s mission comes alive every Monday and Tuesday afternoon during Fall and Spring semesters when 12 pre-school aged children and their caregivers from the Spokane community come to learn and play with Gonzaga candidates.
Connected to four Early Childhood Special Education classes, the pre-school lab uses an integrated education model serving typically developing children as well as those with developmental delays and behavioral concerns. Dr. Anjali Barretto, Professor in Special Education says children are admitted to the pre-school lab on a first-come first-served basis. “Many of our little ones do not find services elsewhere within the community and our program is one of their only opportunities for pre-schooling.” Approximately 40 of our undergraduate candidates gain hands-on experience in lesson planning, behavior management, snack and circle time, academic centers and instructing gross motor techniques.
While learning for both students and candidates unfolds in the pre-school lab, faculty, candidates and students’ parents have the opportunity to watch from the Lab’s observation room. Here, research projects are tracked and candidates not currently in hands-on teacher training gain experience in taking data. Dr. Barretto says, “It’s a mutually wonderful experience. The children get interventions they might not otherwise, parents of students come together sometimes forming their own support network and GU candidates gain hands-on experience for their future careers while giving back to the community.”