September 21, 2010


College to dedicate child care center

Rooms will be named after former SUNY Cortland president’s wife, longtime educator

College Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Pre-kindergarten students play in the indoor Gross Motor Skills Room under the watchful eye of Jen Frankel in the SUNY Cortland Child Care Center. The room will be dedicated to 1923 SUNY Cortland graduate Ruth Hart Blanchard.

Staff Reporter

Patricia Clark believed in SUNY Cortland’s child care center through its early stages because she knew women who worked and needed day-care services.
Two of them were in her own family: her daughter Pamela Shadley, a landscape architect, and her daughter-in-law Virginia Augusta, who holds a development position at Cornell University.
“In my family, the wives work,” said Clark, wife of former SUNY Cortland President James Clark.
She will be honored Friday when the atrium of the new campus Child Care Center is named after her. The atrium is the area where children exit the building to go to the play area, or where they can play when rain or snow makes it impractical to go outside.
The center’s Gross Motor Skills Room will be named after the late Ruth Hart Blanchard, who graduated from the former Cortland Normal School in 1923 and spent 49 years educating children.
The ceremonies are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Speakers will include College President Erik Bitterbaum, center director Johanna Sweeney Hartnett, College Foundation Chair Brian Murphy and Bruce Tytler, member of the College Council.
Blanchard will be represented by her son Paul of Ithaca, a member of the College Foundation Board of Directors.
Clark said that besides her husband, she will be joined by her son Matthew of Ithaca, with his family, including Augusta; her son Timothy of Purchase; and Shadley, who lives in Lexington, Mass.
The college is honoring Clark for her work in support of the center, and Blanchard for her career as well as financial gifts given by her and her son.
“Pat Clark has had a profound impact on the campus and the community for over 30 years,” said Raymond Franco, SUNY Cortland’s vice president for institutional advancement, in a press release. “I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that we might not have had a child care center on campus if it wasn’t for Pat.”
Clark said she and several other women started the child care center in the early 1990s in an area behind Smith Tower and is “thrilled to watch how it has grown.”
The center was available to faculty and students as well as some community members, when there were spots.
The current center opened in the summer of 2009, as part of the new Education Building.
It features a large outdoor play area with landscaping, observation rooms for early education and childhood education students, the atrium that will be named after Clark and the Gross Motor Skills Room, where children work on walking, running, hand dexterity and other motor skills — the room to be named after Ruth Hart Blanchard.
Both the former and current child care centers serve partly as teaching areas where students observe and interact with children.
Blanchard created a scholarship in 2000 for freshmen majoring in early childhood education. She died a year later.
She began as a teacher at Schermerhorn Street School in Cortland.
Schermerhorn Street’s name was changed to Grace Street, and the school stood on the corner of what is now Jewett Avenue and Grace Street. It was also called Second Ward School and was replaced by Parker School.
Blanchard then worked with Cornell’s Emergency School Program during the Depression, and was an administrator in the Ithaca city schools from the 1940s until her retirement in 1972.
In Ithaca, Blanchard founded the first Head Start program in Tompkins County, directed Henry St. John Nursery School and was a supervisor for pre-kindergarten.
“You’ve got to have a love for children,” Blanchard said a few years before her death, according to a college news release about the dedication Friday. “You’ve got to be interested in their development. You hope you can serve the whole child, and that includes family. Especially as young children enter school, the work you do with families is so important.”


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