DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - Over the past 50 years, St. Norbert College in De Pere has been home to hundreds of students who are far from college-age -- students who had a lot of growing up to do.
Students and a teacher at the St. Norbert College Children's Center (WBAY photo)
The Children's Center began with the vision of two St. Norbert psychology students in 1970.
"They started with 6 children, some tables that they built, and a couple donated things from Shopko," Children's Center director Bonnie Lueck described, "and it just took off."
Located in Sensenbrenner Hall, where the Green Bay Packers stayed during training camp under Vince Lombardi, the Children's Center was likely destined for success.
"This was the meeting place for Vince Lombardi right here in this classroom, so there's magic, there's just magic," Lueck said.
Today this 4K classroom is home to some of the 35 students in the Center which that serves not only the children of St. Norbert staff but parents in the community.
But perhaps its greatest mission is the impact it has each year on hundreds of St. Norbert education students who gain experience here.
You could say Megan Yeo's job hasn't taken her far. "Didn't go far at all. Walked across the stage and... here I am!"
Yeo worked in the center all four years during college and realized it was a dream job.
"We have a lot of hands-on, fun activities," the 4K teacher says. "You don't really see a lot of students being bored; they always find something to do and they're busy at it, and everything we do here we are learning. Learning is happening 24/7."
"It was invaluable to be able to put into action what we were learning in the classroom and really get to try out different ideas in such a safe way and get to see right away," Ashley Hendricks, a second-grade teacher in De Pere, said. "'Are the strategies we're learning, does it actually work? Do we need to adjust things?' So, it was an amazing opportunity."
On Sunday, the Children's Center will turn 50.
During her tenure, Lueck has seen a number of young students become college students and then teachers.
The magic, she says, continues in these little ones.
"Many of them have voiced that they'd like to be teachers. We make learning fun, and it's a great career," Lueck said.