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CEHS Fellowships

Phyllis and Jay Slaughter Family Fellowship

About the Award

Phyllis and Jay Slaughter Family Fellowship was established in memory of Phyllis Slaughter. A graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College with a degree in Home Economics and a proud member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. She went on to earn her master’s degree in 1964 in Early Childhood Development at West Virginia University. The award is given annually to support graduate student research and reflects Phyllis’s involvement in the child development/education fields. Recipients are chosen to conduct research work in the  WVU Nursery School and directly impacts the students and programs. Jay Slaughter holds two masters degrees from WVU one in business and economics in 1964 and education in 1965. Jay said in establishing the award to honor his wife, “Our family wanted to continue the contributions Phyllis made by establishing the fellowship in her name. Phyllis would be so very pleased that the fellowship is now in place and the effect it will have on so many children through teaching and providing knowledge in the child development field.”

Phyllis and Jay Slaughter Family Fellowship Recipients

2009 – Keri Smith Law
Keri conducted a project with the children at the WVU Nursery School where they determined their own goals to achieve. This project was published in an article entitled, ’’ I Want to Learn My Phone Number’’: Encouraging Young Children to Set Their Own Goals , (Warash & Smith, 2011). The individual goal project continues at the Nursery School and is conducted by undergraduate CDFS students as part of their Capstone.

2010-2011 – Kaitlin Buchanan
Kaitlin conducted the  Visual Arts Project that was published in 2009. With this project, Kaitlin used direct instruction methods incorporated into the Visual Arts to have children emulate paintings of famous artists. Two of the artworks are hanging in the WVUTransportation Building.

2012 – Jessica Day
Jessica conducted the history project where young children studied their own personal history and presented to other children as well as the community. This project was published as  ’’ History Invades the Preschool Classroom’’ (Warash, 2013).

2013 – Meghan DeVito
Meghan further refined the history project into an extensive long term project spanning eight months. She has combined this project with children learning their own goals as the optimum experience for personalized learning that captured the involvement of parents.


Spotlight on the Fellowship: Jessica Day

Jessica Day of Brentwood, Md., knew she wanted to work with children from the time she began volunteering at a local child care facility during high school. From a young age, she had been interested in becoming involved in a classroom setting. Day graduated with a bachelor’s degree in child development and family studies from the West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) in 2010. After graduating, she began work on a state-wide grant through the WVU Nursery School, Quality and Rating Improvement for West Virginia Child Care, to assess pre-kindergarten classroom environments.

Under the direction of WVU Nursery School director Bobbie Warash, she completed an assessment of 565 child care classrooms in West Virginia. An improvement plan was written for each center and family care home that participated in the study. As a result of the grant, in 2013, all four-year -olds in W.Va. are entitled to attend a pre-K program. In the fall of 2011, Day started work on her master’s degree in CEHS’s Child Development and Family Studies Program. As a master’s student, she was selected to receive the 2012-2013 Phyllis and Jay Slaughter Family Fellowship. The fellowship was established in 2006 through the WVU Foundation by WVU alumnus Jay Slaughter in memory of his wife, Phyllis Slaughter, a CEHS alumna who was well-known in the area for her commitment to children and the study of child development.

“Phyllis contributed a significant amount to the child development field, from her master’s degree thesis to a lifetime of teaching children, counseling parents and monitoring junior teachers in the field,”; Jay Slaughter said of his wife. “She knew that the shaping of children’s behavior and knowledge at such a young age would affect them throughout their lives and would affect the lives of the countless others they would interact with for generations to come. We are pleased with such wonderful contributions to the child development field.”

When Day began working at the WVU Nursery School under Warash, she learned of the Slaughter Fellowship and applied, knowing it would give her the opportunity to extend her time and experience working with children. The purpose of the fellowship is to enable graduate students to contribute to the field of child development, and Day set out to do just that.

After receiving the fellowship, she was able to extend her hours at the nursery school and work on a new project with the school’s four-year-olds. A genealogy tree assignment given in October 2012 became a full-blown history museum by the time children presented their work in April 2013.

“The Slaughter Fellowship enabled us to hire a graduate student to conduct the needed work on projects, such as the history museum,” said Warash. “Jessica was able to dedicate more time to the project.”

The result of the history museum project will be a paper by Warash titled History Invades Pre-School Classroom , looking at the involvement of families and communities in the classroom. Day credits the fellowship with enabling her to commit herself to working with the four-year-olds on their projects. She notes that it was a wonderful learning experience for her as well as for the children.

“I realized how much these pre-K children can learn,” Day said. “A lot of times, we as adults don’t realize that they absorb everything. Once they worked on their own individual [history] projects, I really noticed that.”

“It was a lot of hard work,” she said when asked about receiving the fellowship, “but worth it. You get so much out of it. It’s a good way to help balance out all the work.”

Day graduated with her master’s in educational psychology and child development in May 2013. While she is sad to leave the nursery school, she is taking many fond memories and an abundance of experiences with her. Day’s next steps will be to continue working in the field of child development with pre-K children and in elementary school classrooms, dedicating herself much in the same way as the Slaughter Fellowship’s namesake.