Connie McLaughlin

Interview with Connie McLaughlin    by John Desmond

I interviewed Connie McLaughlin on April 2, 2015.

John Desmond: Before you were hired by DCC, what were you doing?

Connie McLaughlin: I enrolled in Dutchess in September 1968 and graduated in 1970 with a degree in Nursery Education. My first job in the field was working as the Teacher/Director of the Northern Dutchess Day Care Center in Red Hook at that time. I was married and had started a family. 

J.D.: What attracted you to DCC as an employee?

C.M.: I was a stay-at-home mom for about eight months, and when my first child was seven months old in September 1971, June Roush Pierson called to offer me a job as a part-time employee accompanying students as they visited day care and nursery school sites to observe and to grade the written observations. I knew June from when I was a student in Nursery Education. June was the warmest, friendliest, and most energetic person I knew on this campus. Her love for children and the Nursery Education Program was “electric!”

From that point on, I have spent my entire adult life at DCC: as a field supervisor, as the campus day care center director, and, for the last twenty-eight years, as a master teacher in the Pierson Lab Nursery School—where I met you, John. I have had the privilege of knowing many families of faculty and staff through the lab nursery school and day care center!

J.D.: What is the biggest change you have noticed in Early Childhood curriculum?

C.M.: In the early nineties, after research on brain development from age 0 - 3 as well as on how children learn best, the Philosophy of Developmentally Appropriate Practice became important to early childhood. It supports hands-on learning and focuses on children having the opportunity to construct their own knowledge. It is respectful of families, provides for assessment of children’s strengths and needs, and allows children to choose and engage in activities in order to become successful. The DCC Nursery Education Program became known as the Early Childhood Program around this time.

J.D.: Who is someone whom you admire?

C.M.: Jim Hall told me that when I was hired, he was proud to have one of the College’s graduates return to work at the College. That is the original idea of community colleges: to have graduates work in the community where the college is located and even to work at the very college from which the student graduated. He was also a believer in hands-on learning and supported what were referred to as the technical programs that were located in Taconic Hall. I also admire June Pierson. She continues to be my teacher/mentor. After all—I have known her since I was eighteen!

J.D.: Why are you retiring?

C.M.: I could be the grandmother to many of my student teachers! I have had my nursery school children return as parents! I think it is time to do new things. I want to spend more time with my husband and grandchildren, travel, read, have more free time, etc. I will miss my early childhood colleagues—we work together so very well—and people here in Taconic Hall. We have a sense of family here. When I leave, I will have to collect all my materials that are stashed all over the building, and I will need a truck! So I may be here a while this summer!