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St. Patrick’s Infant-Toddler Center Celebrates 30 Years


St. Patrick’s Infant-Toddler Center Celebrates 30 Years

This year we are excited to mark the 30th anniversary of St. Patrick’s Infant-Toddler Center (ITC)! The ITC has provided exceptional childcare since it opened in the fall of 1991. Originally established to provide care for children of Day School faculty and staff, the ITC has recently expanded its enrollment to include children from the broader community. There are currently 25 children aged six weeks to three years old enrolled in the community.

This year we are excited to mark the 30th anniversary of St. Patrick’s Infant-Toddler Center (ITC)! The ITC has provided exceptional childcare since it opened in the fall of 1991. Originally established to provide care for children of Day School faculty and staff, the ITC has recently expanded its enrollment to include children from the broader community. There are currently 25 children aged six weeks to three years old enrolled in the community.

The ITC is a warm, engaging, play-based program that promotes the social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development of young children in a loving and inclusive community. Grounded in the Day School’s mission and philosophy, the ITC begins and ends its work with the recognition of the infinite value of every individual as a child of God. Located in the main Church and Day School building on the Whitehaven Campus, the program runs from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, during the academic year and also provides a summer enrollment option. 

With 30 years of institutional experience in caring for and fostering the development of infants and toddlers, the ITC remains a nurturing, secure, and caring environment. We regard the program as “teacher tested,” given the original purpose of the ITC. Under the watchful eyes of Day School faculty and staff, the ITC has grown into the attentive and enriched developmental environment that it is today. Our ITC caregivers are dedicated early childhood professionals who are passionate about working with children at this important developmental stage of their lives. 

Applicants to the ITC must be at least six weeks of age to begin the program. Available spaces are first allocated to children of Day School faculty and staff, and remaining spaces are allocated to the wider community based on availability, date of application, and age of child at time of enrollment. 

Director of Communication and Marketing Karolina Canning interviewed faculty and staff who are either current or past ITC parents. Lower School learning specialist Mary Beth James enrolled her children during the program’s earliest years. Grade 3 teacher Rachel Levin has had two children attend the ITC who are now Day School students. Librarian Jamila Felton recently enrolled her infant son in the program. Longtime caregiver Tinia Duckett has been an essential member of the ITC team since the program’s infancy and continues to provide leadership along with the thoughtful, loving care that these parents value so highly. 


Mary Beth James, Lower School Learning Specialist: 

  1. What made the experience for Clinton and Mariah such a  positive experience? 

There were always highly capable and loving teachers involved in the ITC. 

  1. How did the ITC experience shape your child’s learning and development?

Developmental formation is as much about who you are with as what you do. The tremendously caring environment, loving adults, daily notes, and advice made us feel so comfortable leaving our youngsters. Combined with St. Patrick’s Nursery School, the youngsters were born into the word “lifers” at St. Patrick’s. 

  1. What growth have you seen in the program over time? Do you remember the size of the program when you first started? 

In 1991, my son Clinton entered the ITC at eight weeks in the inaugural year. Clinton is turning 30 this year, with a one-and-a-half-year-old of his own. He is now a vice principal of a middle school. There were three other infants and toddlers at the time. Kathy and Fran implemented a wonderfully warm and welcoming program from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm daily. My daughter Mariah joined the ITC at five months in the fall of 1994. Allison Tracy joined the ITC and ultimately became a Nursery School teacher.  When Mariah joined, Tinia Duckett took over leadership of the ITC. Mariah is now 27 years old and a teacher at DC Prep. As parents, we believe their early experience at St.Patrick’s helped form them both, into the nurturing educators  they are today. 

  1. What was your favorite part of the ITC? 

When Clinton started in the ITC, both my husband Chuck and I were working at St. Patrick’s. The ability to drop in and visit made the ITC  feel like an extension of our family. At every event, the large two-level baby buggy carrying the ITC babies paraded the infants. Around every corner, they were greeted positively by everyone they met. They were so embedded in the community. They were given so many opportunities, such as going to Chapel, playing on the playground, attending the Kindergarten Circus The friendships formed then are lasting. Mariah and Grace Robinson (daughter of Michael and Frances Robinson) remain friends today, as do Clinton and Emily Robinson. 

Rachel Levin, Grade 3:

  1. What made the experience for Maya and Noa such a positive one?

Maya and Noa loved the ITC. They felt and continue to feel a close emotional bond with their teachers and classmates. The warm, family-like environment created by the caregivers enabled them to thrive, have fun, and develop long-lasting friendships. During the year that both Noa and Maya were in the ITC in the older toddler and infant rooms, respectively, it was wonderful for them to be able to see, visit, and check-in on each other during the day. I also think knowing that I was right down the hall was a comfort to them. 

As a parent, I can’t imagine having a more positive experience with daycare. No matter how supportive the environment (and St. Patrick’s is VERY supportive!), going back to work as a new mom is incredibly difficult in so many ways. Being able to bring my children to work with me made it so much easier to make this transition knowing that I could check on them, feed them, or address a problem at a moment’s notice made all the difference for me. Having Noa and Maya in the ITC also improved my ability to be present in the classroom for my students as it lessened my anxiety about my own children. Plus, being able to connect with colleagues whose children had been through the ITC already was also beneficial in that it allowed me to know what to expect on a day-to-day basis. 

  1. How was the somewhat recent transition from the ITC to Nursery School and beyond at St. Patrick’s? Do you think the ITC set Maya and Noa up well to enter into school?  

Noa and Maya were incredibly well-prepared for Nursery School because of their time in the ITC. Beyond the basics of being used to the structure and length of the school day, they also had so many social and academic skills that they gained from being in the ITC since infancy. They learned to share, follow directions, walk in a line, advocate for themselves, clean up, and be part of a community of learners. They also had lots of exposure to materials, playgrounds, and older students on a regular basis. In addition, I think both Noa and Maya feel “known” in this community since they have both been here for so long. This makes a difference in terms of their sense of belonging and ownership over the community that is so special. All of these things set both kids up for success in Nursery School and beyond. 

  1. What was your favorite part of ITC? 

My favorite part of the ITC was undoubtedly the community. The support we received from the ITC teachers, from other parents, and the close, sibling-like relationships Noa and Maya have formed with their peers are irreplaceable.


Jamila Felton, Librarian: 

  1. Currently, is Jahlil having a positive experience in the ITC? 

Jahlil loves being in the ITC. Melvin and I get to see strong evidence of his daily joy when his teachers upload pictures of him eating, strolling, interacting with his peers, and playing.

  1. What is your favorite part of having your child in the ITC? 

My favorite part is the ability to see him at random times throughout my work day.

  1. What value do you see in the ITC as a current faculty and staff member? 

The greatest value is the love Jahlil receives from the entire, talented ITC team. There are also huge values in the diligent COVID protocols supported by our School Nurses and the convenience of the ITC location.


Tinia Duckett, ITC Teacher: 

  1. As a longtime ITC caregiver, what are you earliest memories of the program?

It feels like it was yesterday that we opened with just four students (two infants and two toddlers). I remember Mariah James and Gracie Robinson in our early days. There was one time we were teaching them manners and not chewing with their mouths open. I was surprised to hear from their parents the next day when they said they had brought this lesson home to their parents. It felt amazing knowing what kind of impact I was having on their children.

  1. What are some of your greatest joys as you see the infants and toddlers grow in the program?

I’m always in awe when they start walking and communicating. It’s amazing how fast they can grow and rewarding to watch them develop in front of our eyes. Mariah James was our first baby at 18 months, and now I can’t believe she’s finished school and teaching too! 

  1. How has this program evolved over the years?

There’s been a lot of change in the program over the last 30 years. As I mentioned, we started with just four children, and we have grown to 21 to 25 children. With that growth came new facilities and staff that have created a synergy and warmth in the center. We’re growing with the students, and it has been a beautiful experience as someone who has been here from the beginning.