UMF Sweatt-Winter receives grant to help serve families today and prepare educators for tomorrow

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FARMINGTON, ME  (October 22, 2018)—A top childcare and teacher preparation facility in the state of Maine, the Sweatt-Winter Childcare and Education Center on the University of Maine at Farmington campus is having growing pains as Maine is experiencing a teacher shortage.

UMF Education majors gain real world classroom experience at on-campus Sweatt-Winter Childcare Center.
UMF Education majors gain real world classroom experience at on-campus Sweatt-Winter Childcare Center.

In addition to providing familes with quality childcare, Sweatt-Winter serves as a research site for investigating new approaches to early childhood education and as a lab school for UMF education majors where best teaching practices are taught and demonstrated by onsite UMF faculty instructors.

The Center recently received a $3,500 “Learning by Nature for ME” pilot grant from the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program to strengthen the ways the Center’s outdoor environment supports children’s developmentally appropriate play/learning needs that build on a child’s sense of wonder about nature.

“KVCAP/Educare Central Maine values our longstanding partnership  with the UMF Early Childhood program. We are excited about this unique opportunity with the Learning by Nature for ME initiative to reinforce our support of UMF and Sweatt-Winter and their commitment to the outdoors as a learning environment,” said Tracye Fortin, KVCAP assistant director.

According to Patti Bailie, early childhood education professor, UMF is poised to be one of the first public liberal arts colleges to provide teacher training in this new approach. “Many public schools are just beginning to provide this type of outdoor experience as an integral part of their curriculum,” said Bailie. “Connecting children to nature has many positive and lasting effects including on their attitudes, behaviors and environmental awareness.”

The Sweatt-Winter program has provided a top quality, full-time childcare and education program for children in Franklin County and the surrounding areas for more than 30 years. “There is often  a waiting list for our childcare programs, which have double the impact on the community serving both families with children and UMF education students,” said Julie Farmer, director of Sweatt-Winter children’s programs.

If Question 4 on the upcoming bond on November 6 passes, funds will be available to expand the capacity of the Sweatt-Winter Center providing innovative spaces for additional childcare opportunities for Maine families and enhanced pre-professional training for pre-service teachers.

The University of Maine System is increasingly pursuing partnerships to tackle Maine’s top workforce challenges. Last month, Maine’s public universities announced a plan to double nursing enrollment to reverse a state shortage and in November voters will be asked to approve Question 4, a $49 million infrastructure bond that will expands education and training across the System to produce more in-demand healthcare, teaching and STEM professionals.

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Media Contact: Patti Bailie, assistant professor of early childhood education, at or 207-778-7160

Image: RP189-014
Photo Caption: UMF Education major gains real world classroom experience at on-campus Sweatt-Winter Childcare Center.
Photo Credit: UMF photo

April Mulherin
UMF Associate Director for Media Relations
office: 207-778-7081
cell: 207-491-0064

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