Early Childhood Education

About the Child Development Lab School




















A high quality school for young children and teacher training facility since 1977, the NVCC Child Development Center Laboratory School is a state of the art early care and education facility guided by the Reggio Emilia Approach philosophy.

The Child Development Center is a place where children and teachers co-construct learning in a hands-on, arts-based and nature-inspired classroom. Considered the third teacher, the environment is intentionally arranged to maximize children's curiosity and creativity in a home-like and developmentally appropriate setting. Collaborative learning also fosters independence, higher-level thinking skills, social competence, language development, and self-regulation, consistently building on skills which prepare children for academic success throughout the school years.

The curriculum emerges from the interests of the children with purposeful and reflective interactions which are expressed by children through exploration, self-expression, and interaction with their teachers and peers, while maintaining an alignment of the State of Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards as the foundation of the curriculum. Holistic assessment is based on the variety of ways that children represent their understanding and questions, also known as The Hundred Languages of Children.

The use of the Project Approach allows children to explore all domains of learning in the context of in-depth exploration of a topic, inspired by the children's interests and group and individual needs.

Program Contact
Abbie M Calo
203-596-8604 (p)
203-596-8650 (f)
Room: K400
750 Chase Parkway
Waterbury, CT 06708
Mission, Vision, & Philosophy

The Child Development Center educates preschool children through a collaborative effort between... Learn More »

From the Director

"The Child Development Center Laboratory School is a place where children, their families, the students, the teaching team and the College community come together to form quality relationships, foster new understandings and experience the excitement of discovery."

Abbie Calo

Mission, Vision, & Philosophy
Mission, Vision, & Philosophy

The Child Development Center educates preschool children through a collaborative effort between Naugatuck Valley Community College and the Waterbury School Readiness Initiative. We provide your child with an individualized education program based on current, developmentally appropriate practices and are inclusive of a full range of family lifestyles and cultural backgrounds.

Our Philosophy

Our goal is to create an intellectually stimulating environment where your child can share a curiosity and openness to learning about the world. In planning and implementing the daily program in the classroom, we develop activities and routines that promote the social-emotional, cognitive, linguistic and physical motor development of your child.

The Child Development Lab School is inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia in Italy, which promotes:

  • an emergent, project-oriented curriculum in which teachers expand on your child's interests and build on previous understandings
  • creative development, strong problem-solving abilities, a sense of inquiry and the opportunity to develop and test theories, discover and enjoy learning

We also believe that the classroom environment is a "teacher." Special care is taken to promote your child's exploration and discovery through diverse use of natural materials and other art tools

Teachers act as guides, observers and facilitators for your child's discovery, as parents' allies, and as collaborators with one another. Documentation of your child's work is an integral part of the curriculum. We provide a flexible program that respects individual differences in your child's temperament and learning style, while encouraging cooperation among children. We will document your child's learning process in the form of a panel. 

Our philosophy heavily emphasizes the arts and how children can learn traditional “academic” skills, such as math, science, language, etc. in a meaningful context through creative art experiences. Our goal is to inform and teach students, parents and the community about the important role that art can play in the education of children.

Our History
Our History


The Lab School at Naugatuck Valley Community College, which was then Mattatuck Community College, opened its doors in January 1977 to provide a training laboratory for early childhood education majors at the college as well as a quality educational environment for young children ages 3 - 6.

Initial set-up

The initial set-up of the center included one large preschool. Today there are three classrooms, including two preschools, one with an integrated Kindergarten component, a toddler class.


The enrollment of the center includes children of staff, faculty, students and the local community.

School readiness

In 1998, the Lab School received a school readiness grant from the state of Connecticut, expanding it’s role in the community through collaboration with the Waterbury School System. There are currently 20 full-time children who attend year-round under the umbrella of Waterbury School Readiness.

Model school

The Lab School has evolved through the years to become a nationally accredited, high-quality model school that serves as the training ground for approximately 40 early childhood education students per year as well as students in other related disciplines, such as psychology, English and nursing.

Reggio Emilia approach

The Lab School is the only training facility in the state to incorporate the Reggio Emilia approach into its teacher preparation program as well as fully utilize the approach in the classrooms with young children.

The Hundred Languages of Children
The Hundred Languages of Children


Reggio Emilia Italia


No Way. The hundred is there.*

The child

is made of one hundred.

The child has a hundred languages

a hundred hands

a hundred thoughts

a hundred ways of thinking

of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred

ways of listening

of marveling of loving

a hundred joys

for singing and understanding

a hundred worlds

to discover

a hundred wolds

to invent

a hundred worlds

to dream.

The child has

a hundred languages

(and a hundred, hundred, hundred more)

but they steal ninety-nine.

The school and the culture

separate the head from the body.

They tell the child:

to think without hands

to do without head

to listen and not to speak

to understand without joy

to love and to marvel

only at Easter and Christmas.

They tell the child:

to discover the world already there

and of the hundred

they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:

that work and play

reality and fantasy

science and imagination

sky and earth

reason and dream

are things

that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child

that the hundred is not there.

The child says:

No way. The hundred is there.

                    -Loris Malaguzzi

                     *Translated by Lella Gandini


Project Approach
Project Approach

High-interest, in-depth studies that encompass a variety of learning and embedded curriculum and assessment are considered the Project Approach.



    Calo, Abbie M
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    Abbie M Calo
    Director, Child Development Center
    Room: K400a
    203-575-8293 (p)
    203-596-8650 (f)
    Giarratona, Cynthia
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    Cynthia Giarratona
    Kindergarten Teacher
    Room: K400
    203-596-8604 (p)
    Maksymiw, Kristine E
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    Kristine E Maksymiw
    Room: K400
    203-596-8604 (p)
    Milia, Kim A
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    Kim A Milia
    Lead Co-Teacher
    Room: K400
    203-596-8604 (p)
    Petrakopoulos, Laura E
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    Laura E Petrakopoulos
    Lead Co-Teacher
    Room: K400
    203-596-8640 (p)
    Sepanski, Courtney A
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    Courtney A Sepanski
    Lead Co-Teacher
    Room: K400
    203-596-8604 (p)
    Spino, MariLynne
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    MariLynne Spino
    Lead Co-Teacher
    Room: K400
    203-596-8604 (p)
    Turner, Katheryn A
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    Katheryn A Turner
    Room: K400
    203-596-8604 (p)
    Zhao, Chun
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    Chun Zhao
    Room: K400
    203-596-8604 (p)