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Children's camp rewarding for UHV professor

July 23, 2011 at 2:23 a.m.

Marie Plemons

Marie Plemons has harnessed creativity and imagination during her 37 years of instruction.

Now the University of Houston-Victoria education professor and early childhood development specialist is bringing out the creativity of young students during an interdisciplinary camp she is leading.

UHV School of Education & Human Development education majors are working with Plemons to present playful activities in reading, art, music, movement, math, science and social studies to stimulate children's creativity around the theme of "Life on a Ranch."

The camp for children ages 3 to 8 is taking place at the Children's Discovery Museum of the Golden Crescent. But Plemons' involvement with that institution has been deep since its inception more than 10 years ago.

"I have always been guided by the phrase 'children first,'" Plemons said. "I have always enjoyed being with children, and I love to watch their every move and listen to their comical antics."

Plemons and Jane Devick Fry, a UHV associate professor of education, brought the need for a children's museum to the attention of then-UHV President Karen Haynes. Haynes helped spur the community into action, resulting in a facility that fosters learning through art and a variety of play activities for young children and their families.

The professors continue to serve on the museum's board of directors. Barba Patton, a UHV associate professor of education, also has taught numerous camps during the museum's existence.

Plemons said her work at the museum is personally rewarding.

"I find it enjoyable to observe the children's excitement as they move from one area of the museum to another," she said. "One can hear their giggles and squeals as they create something original in the art area, engage in a dramatic play or explore new cultures."

Plemons said her biggest thrill comes when she hears a child begging to stay a little longer at the museum.

"That's when I know we have created something very special just for the children that will give them memories for a lifetime," she said.

Interim Museum Director Paige Gedvillas said although Plemons is a university professor, she works well with young children.

"I have worked with her on many events, and she is one of our best volunteer board members," Gedvillas said. "She is great with kids, and we are pleased to have her doing camps again. This is a fun ranch camp."

Plemons said the museum is a child-centered place where youth can learn at their own developmental levels.

"It provides the children with opportunities to learn about the world around them in a whimsical learning environment," she said.

Lawrence Rossow, dean of the UHV School of Education & Human Development, said the faculty working with nonprofit organizations such as the Children's Discovery Museum help foster goodwill with the community.

"We encourage our faculty to get involved in efforts that interest them," Rossow said. "Dr. Plemons and others who work with the museum are caring individuals who enjoy giving back to the town."

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