Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Children’s Center puts down roots

Olivet Yettou and her classmates at the Davis Children’s Center enjoy a parade as part of their Lunar New Year celebration.

February 15, 2011 | Leave Comment

After several moves and related changes in recent years, the Davis school district’s Children’s Center is putting down roots at the Valley Oak campus.

The Children’s Center program — which primarily serves 3- and 4-year-olds — was launched in the 1970s. For many years, the program was housed on the same block as the school district’s offices at 526 B St. But then the Children’s Center moved to Pioneer Elementary in South Davis, then to Korematsu Elementary in the Mace Ranch neighborhood and finally to the Valley Oak campus. It shares the former elementary school campus with a special education preschool program, Da Vinci High School and other programs.

The close proximity of the high school students has led to a unique collaboration.

“We partner with Da Vinci High. Some of their students come over and work with our teachers and students, reading one-on-one with children in our classrooms, using pre-selected books,” said Maria Furtado-Yuen, the Children’s Center director.

The benefit of the collaboration is mutual. Helping at the Children’s Center gives Da Vinci students a close-at-hand opportunity to meet the community service requirement that is part of the Da Vinci program. And the youngsters at the Children’s Center develop better language skills in the process.

“Over 70 percent of our students at the Children’s Center come in with English not being their first language,” Furtado-Yuen said.

Students come from families that are speaking languages as diverse as Korean, Tibetan, Nepalese, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese and several  languages from China and India. Some of the parents are affiliated with UC Davis, others are recent immigrants. For some of the children, living in a new country is a big transition.

“We work very hard to make everyone feel safe and comfortable,” Furtado-Yuen said. “Right now, we are serving a little over 100 students.”

When parents drop off their youngsters at the Children’s Center, the children wash their hands (to cut down on germs) and then transition into free play in one of several areas. After a while, a snack is served, and then the children gather with their teacher for “structured circle time — a story, or some songs, or movement,” Furtado-Yuen said.

There’s also time for small group activities, including drawing or writing or music.

“The most important thing we do is provide a safe environment where children can come and build on their social skills, and learn social norms, so that when they enter a kindergarten class, they have great self-esteem and can follow the routine of a kindergarten room — regardless of whether they were born in this country or immigrated,” Furtado-Yuen said. “The majority of our staff, including myself, are immigrants.”

The program aims to “give students the skill to sit through circle time and group time, teach them how cut paper and write their name — these are things that are important,” Furtado-Yuen said.

Rebecca Detrick’s 4-year-old daughter Katie is in teacher Stacy Oler’s class.

“It’s neat to see how kids learn and can become friends and play every day,” Detrick said. “And the teachers are great.”

Maureen Poole’s granddaughter Emily attends the Children’s Center.

“It’s wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” Poole said. “And with a granddaughter, there’s less stress for me than when I was a parent. It’s really exciting, seeing it all again (a second time).”

Poole added that her kids Brian and Brittany attended the Children’s Center around 1990, when it was located downtown.

Parent Krystal Roa has three children — Josiah, Isaiah and Luciah — who have rotated through the Children’s Center over the past five years. “The teachers really love the kids and are very involved,” Roa said.

Jacqui LeValle has had two children at the Children’s Center. “I love this program. Teacher Maureen Driscoll is as good as it gets. The kids are really happy to be here, and that makes us parents happy,” LeValle said.

Parent Kendall Essex said her daughter Anna “can’t wait to get here. She wakes up every morning, excited about preschool. It’s a great foundation — learning, and having fun.”

–Reach Jeff Hudson at or (530) 747-8055. Comment on this story at


Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy



New mosaic mural reflects Peña family history

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

UC Davis biodigester hungers for food scraps, belches out electricity

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Fire damages Woodland home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

Davis Arts Center: See ceramics, join the Big Day of Giving

By Erie Vitiello | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Register to vote by May 19

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Birch Lane sells garden plants, veggies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Team Blend hosts fundraiser for Nicaragua project

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

Sign up for enviro organizations during Earth Week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis businesswoman presides over conference

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Bible fun featured at Parents’ Night Out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

UCD to host premiere of autism documentary

By Cory Golden | From Page: A4

400 bikes go up for bids at UCD auction

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Fire crews gather for joint training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

UFC hears from two local historians

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Church hosts discussion of mental health needs, services

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sunder hosts campaign event for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Fundraiser benefits Oakley campaign

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Odd Fellows host culinary benefit for nonprofit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

UC Davis conference showcases undergraduate research

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Train to become a weather spotter

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Fly Fishers talk to focus on healthy streams, rivers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Learn survival skills at Cache Creek Preserve

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Veterans, internees may receive overdue diplomas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

UCD professor to talk about new book

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Slow Food tour showcases area’s young farmers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10



Will anyone notice?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

My votes reflect city values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

I support Sunder for board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

A plea on the Bard’s birthday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Sharing fire services has been a success

By Our View | From Page: A6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6



Seniors send Blue Devil girls past Broncos in a lacrosse rout

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis gets to Grant ace and rolls in DVC crucial

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Walchli is under par in another Devil victory

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

DHS/Franklin I goes to the Blue Devil softballers

By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS thunders back to win an epic DVC volleyball match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Sharks go up 3-0 with OT win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Baseball roundup: Rangers rally to beat A’s in the ninth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8



Field to fork: El Macero’s chef offers spring tastes

By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery



Biscuits ‘n Honey will play at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Five Three Oh! featured at April Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Celebrate spring at I-House on Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Music, wine flow at Fourth Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9





Catharine ‘Kay’ Lathrop

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



Comics: Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6