a child center here
launch a college in India thats
Alice for you!
Lal in 1975 at first LAMC child development center.
Alice Lal remembers that day in 1975 as if it were yesterday.
She had been appointed director of the child development center at the
brand new Mission College and her first task was to find a site for the
center. The college didnt have a campus then. For two days, she
looked at many sites throughout the northeast Valley without any luck.
"I was so frustrated," she recalled. "On the third day
I prayed to God and said, Please let me find a place today."
At 4th and Maclay, her car sputtered then "died" in front
of a building. As she walked around looking for an open door and a phone,
Alice realized the place was perfect for a child center. She later learned
that the building was about to be placed on a lease list.
"I couldnt believe it the perfect building," she
said. "And, you know, the funny thing? When I went out to my car,
it started right away!"
The way Alice figured it, if that wasnt a sign from above then such
signs dont exist.
Twenty-nine years later and after caring for about 900 children, Alice
has retired as director of the Campus Child Development Center, the only
director the center has ever known. Although she began her career as a
nurse and has taught classes at Mission College in child development and
psychology, all of her 49-year career as an educator has been spent in
early childhood development centers. Two accomplishments give her the
greatest satisfaction. One involves the many times her expertise allowed
her to identify disabilities in children that even their parents were
unaware of. She recalled one child who was hard of hearing; another who
was blind in one eye. Alice was able to work with the parents to get the
children the special help they needed.
She also boasts of her role in helping to extend child center hours into
the evening. Mission was the first college in the district to offer an
evening child care program.
Lal chats with children at the Campus Child Development Center.
made me proud, to be part of something that recognized that evening students
have the same rights and needs as day students," she said.
Indeed, when it comes to childcare, its very personal for Alice
Lal. As a young émigré from India, Lal was a single mother
in a new country who needed to work. When she couldnt find affordable
childcare, she made the bold but heartbreaking decision to send her 15-month-old
daughter back to India, where Alices mother could care for her.
was a traumatic, painful experience for me," she said of the 10-month
separation. "I cried almost every day until I got my child back.
But thats why I went into childcare."
So when a mother
comes to Alice, crying about a problem related to her child and Alice
hugs her, its not an empty gesture. Alice has been there. "Ive
had so many parents cry on my shoulder. If I can help them in any way,
I do. Ive even given some of them money, if thats what they
After nearly 50 years in education, youd think she was ready for
a rest. Not so. She has long desired to share her knowledge and experience
with her native countrymen. This week, she returns to India to help start
a junior college in Kominapalli, near Hyderabad. She will help develop
curriculum, hopes to establish an on-line connection between that school
and Mission College
and shes even helping the architects plan
"My life has been so full and gratifying that the only thing left
for me to do is to go back to India and complete what Ive always
wanted to do," she said.
Alice Lals many friends at Mission College and in the community
plan a recognition event for her when she returns from India in the spring.