Our People: Melissa Tenhet
Author: Allison Matthews
After 28 years as a professional working in early childhood education, Melissa Tenhet says her work is fresh and new each day.
The Philadelphia native and MSU alumna loves teaching young children—from singing to babies to talking with preschoolers about science and social studies.
"This is what lays the foundation for all of their years to come," says Tenhet, director of MSU's Child Development and Family Studies Center.
Housed in the university's School of Human Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the center cares for nearly 70 children, age birth through kindergarten, with additional children attending an after-school program. The center provides top quality care that recently attained a five, the highest rating on the Quality Rating System. It also has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Additionally, the center provides an opportunity for MSU students studying human development and family studies to view best practices under supervision of instructors like Tenhet, who also teaches two upper-level courses in the program.
Bright and cheerful, with lots of art decorating the hallways and the aroma of lunch cooking, the center is a nice place to work, Tenhet says. She credits the hard-working staff members who help make each day a good experience for every child and family. Many of the children's parents are MSU faculty, staff and students, but the center also serves members of the community.
Tenhet says someone in her line of work must have a passion for early childhood. Her leadership role is also aided by years of experience in the field. She has taught at two of the state's community colleges and helped oversee transfer agreements between Mississippi's community colleges and universities for students in early childhood education programs. She has worked as a child life specialist at University of Mississippi Medical Center and has directed the division of early childhood for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
At MSU, she has worked in the Early Childhood Institute and for the Resource and Referral program in the Early Years Network. At the child development center, she shows no signs of slowing down, but instead is prepared to lead the center through a new period of growth. The center will merge with Aiken Village Preschool on July 1, and a facility expansion is planned to accommodate more children and families soon.
Tenhet says with a smile, "It's something exciting and different every single day."