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Ribbon-cutting ceremony

FSC Dedicates Center for Early Childhood Learning and Health, New Home for School of Education

Feb 21, 2020

Florida Southern President Dr. Anne Kerr was joined by the College’s Board of Trustees to dedicate the new Carol Jenkins Barnett Center for Early Childhood Learning and Health and the new Lamar Louise Curry Education Center on Feb. 21.

Students attending Florida Southern's relocated preschool will be welcomed into bright and colorful new settings.

The site of the interconnected structures on Frank Lloyd Wright Way, described as part of FSC’s “miracle mile for our children” in introductory remarks by Vice President of Development Heather Pharris, is adjacent to the renowned Roberts Academy, Florida’s only school for children with dyslexia. Students from preschool age through the elementary and middle-school grades are a central focus of this increasingly vital section of campus, with construction of a third Roberts Academy building for middle school students coming soon.

The Carol Jenkins Barnett Center for Early Childhood Learning and Health brings together the resources of the School of Education and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences for a unique interdisciplinary program to study how education and health affect each other in early childhood. The addition of a new Community Resources Studio will provide services and educational training for Polk County’s families, teachers, and members of the healthcare community to ensure successful early-learning outcomes for children in our community.

The Center is named in honor of Dr. Carol Jenkins Barnett of the Class of ’79, daughter of Publix Super Markets founder George W. Jenkins. Her husband, FSC Trustee Dr. Barney Barnett of the Class of ’65, attended the building dedication as a special guest, along with son Wesley.

“Carol’s accomplishments on behalf of children are legendary, and we certainly are honored to have this new, beautiful, colorful facility and these creative programs that pay tribute to her work to build a better world for children,” said Dr. Kerr, in her opening remarks. “The potential impact of the Carol Jenkins Barnett Center for Early Childhood Learning and Health is limitless, and we are excited about the countless children and their families whose lives will be transformed within this facility.”

The Lamar Louise Curry Education Center, which is directly connected to the Carol Jenkins Barnett Center, will provide additional opportunities for ongoing collaboration among all education programs with a continued emphasis on the clinical education of pre-service teachers. Its proximity to the Roberts Academy will give education majors greater access to practice their skills hands-on with local students.

The Curry Education Center is named in honor of Miss Lamar Louise Curry of the Class of 1927, a longtime Florida educator who taught U.S. history for 35 years in Miami-Dade County Schools. Miss Curry died in 2012 at the age of 105.

“Miss Curry is revered throughout the state for her love of teaching and the education profession,” said Dr. Tracey Tedder, dean of the School of Education. “This facility will carry on her legacy and provide countless future teachers with outstanding opportunities to collaborate, practice their skills, and make a greater impact upon the students they will teach in the future.”

The new facilities feature fun and unexpected interior touches.

Dr. Tedder also discussed the upcoming relocation of the Florida Southern College Preschool to the new facility and the development of a Community Resource room to be led by Assistant Professor of Pediatric Nursing and Education Coordinator Dr. Tracy Magee.

“I think it’s important to have a foot in both places,” said Dr. Magee, who came to FSC from Boston College in May 2019. “The whole idea is having students understand early on that healthy kids learn better.”

Dr. Brad Hollingshead, FSC’s provost, observed that the new facilities have been designed to enrich the learning process and bring out the best in students, faculty, and everyone who is served by them. “Learning by doing has a long history in American education, and we are very much a part of that history,” Dr. Hollingshead said. “But our unique contribution to that history is that we don’t simply learn by doing; we learn by doing good. And that is exactly what this Center makes possible.”

Dr. Hollingshead thanked the Deans of Nursing and Education, Dr. Linda Comer and Dr. Tedder, “for bringing their Schools together to develop curricula and research opportunities that will foster the integrated, applied learning for this Center. And on behalf of the entire faculty, I want to say how grateful we are for this exceptional space for learning.”

Students from Roberts Academy arrived in advance of the building dedication.