Cal U will dedicate the new home of the Rutledge Institute preschool program at a child-friendly ceremony from 11 a.m.-noon Dec. 10 in Morgan Hall. The entire campus community is invited to attend.
President Geraldine Jones, Tom Rutledge and Karen Rutledge look over plans for the Rutledge Institute. The facility will be dedicated on Dec. 10.
The preschool is a key component of the Karen and Tom Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education, a center for educational excellence based at Cal U.
Funded through a generous gift from Karen and Tom ’77 Rutledge, of Greenwich, Conn., the institute brings teachers from The Village, a nationally accredited childhood education center, to campus to provide high-quality preschool education to eligible children ages 3-5.
“We have stayed true to Mrs. Rutledge’s vision of providing pre-K education for children who otherwise might not have that opportunity,” said Cherie Sears, president of The Village and the preschool program’s director.
The institute also offers exceptional learning opportunities and full tuition scholarships for future teachers enrolled at Cal U as Rutledge Institute Scholars.
Since it opened this fall, the institute’s preschool program has been housed elsewhere in Morgan Hall while Cal U employees completed extensive renovations.
The children kept an eye on their progress, Sears said. As the work wrapped up, a group of little ones even stopped by to say thank you to the workers.
“Our employees are very invested in this project, because they know it’s for little kids,” said Robert Thorn, vice president for Administration and Finance. “They always take pride in their work, but this project was special.”
The preschool has two bright, roomy classrooms equipped with sturdy wood furniture manufactured locally by the Bruderhof community. A central foyer, child-size restrooms, teacher offices, laundry facilities and storage rooms support the learning environment, and a fenced play area gives children a safe space for outdoor activities.
“We’ve come a long way since I sat down with the Rutledges and listened to them describe their vision for the institute,” said University President Geraldine M. Jones.
After months of behind-the-scenes planning, the initiative – funded with the largest gift in California’s history – was announced in April.
Currently, 11 children attend the Rutledge Institute preschool program, and seven Rutledge Institute Scholars are enrolled in first-year classes. In the future, the institute anticipates enrolling 20 children annually, with a cohort of 10 first-year college students added each fall.
“We are excited about dedicating these classrooms, but this is just the start,” said President Jones.
“So many people have done so much to bring the Rutledges’ vision to life. And the children of our community, their future teachers, our Childhood Education Department and the teaching profession itself will benefit.”
Incoming first-year students with strong academic skills and a sincere interest in early childhood education may apply to become Rutledge Institute Scholars. Learn more online or contact coordinator Dr. Rebecca Maddas at firstname.lastname@example.org.