Celebrating the Shirley G. Moore Lab School

This month, the Shirley G. Moore Lab School concluded its final semester in its current location, which it has occupied for more than 90 years. In the coming months, the Lab School will move to a new location and unite with the University of Minnesota Child Development Center to form the new Child Development Laboratory School. In honor of this transition, we took a brief look back at the Lab School’s history and its accomplishments during the last year. 

A storied history

Innovation and commitment to learning have been at the heart of the Lab School’s mission throughout its history. From its founding in 1925, the Lab School was central to ICD’s mission of research and training. The school not only provided care and schooling to children, but also assisted researchers in developing child development theories and principles that were field-defining and field-shaping in the early 20th century. As the needs of children and families evolved over the decades, the Lab School evolved along with them, eventually amending its curriculum to include more opportunities for individualized, developmentally appropriate education and guided discovery and play.

Children enrolled in the laboratory preschool, undated.

Read more about the Lab School’s history

A 2018 Connect magazine article, “A laboratory for science and learning,” showcases the Shirley G. Moore Lab School’s rich history and how it has evolved across time.

An unprecedented year

The Lab School’s ability to adapt and innovate was underscored during the past year when COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges. Despite the need for distance learning at the beginning of the pandemic, the Lab School team continued to find ways to connect with students and families. For example, in the Spring of 2020, Lab School teachers met with large and small groups of children weekly via Zoom and sent home videos of themselves reading stories and modeling other learning activities. They also hosted remote parent nights and offered student teachers the opportunity to problem solve and implement their ideas in real-time.  

For the 2020-21 academic year, the Lab School adopted a primarily outdoor and nature-based curriculum, once again showcasing the team’s agility, innovative thinking, and dedication to providing a high-quality learning experience for both preschoolers and student teachers. While the new curriculum required additional training for lead teachers and a new approach to daily operations, the school year went very smoothly. At a time when so much had changed in the day-to-day life of children and families, the Lab School and its exceptional staff were able to provide a safe, engaging, and unique learning environment. Their efforts and resilience were much appreciated by the student teachers and the families. 

The next chapter

The new, combined Child Development Laboratory School program is set to officially launch in Fall 2021 and will be located at 921 17th Ave SE in Minneapolis, near the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus. The program will continue to be academically and administratively housed in ICD and integrated with the department’s research and early childhood education training programs. Both Lab School teachers and families are eager to continue the nature-based learning approach in the new classrooms in the fall. As an integral part of ICD, we look forward to the next chapter in the Lab School’s history!

A special thank you to Sheila Williams Ridge, the Lab School’s director, and all of the teachers and staff for their dedication and commitment to the program and the school’s community of children and families. 

Amy Betz, Lead Teacher

Member of the Lab School staff since 2006

Ayuko Boomer, Lead Teacher

Member of the Lab School staff since 2007

Elizabeth Criswell, Special Education Liaison

Member of the Lab School staff since 2011

Marie Lister, Assistant Director and Lead Teacher

Member of the Lab School staff since 2012

Amy Pieren, Program Specialist

Member of the Lab School staff since 2011

Sheila Williams Ridge, Director

Member of the Lab School staff since 2010

Alyssa Wilt, Lead Teacher

Member of the Lab School staff since 2019