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About the Center

Student drawing from still life root

The Smith College Center for Early Childhood Education at Fort Hill offers full- and part-time early education and child care in Northampton for children infancy through preschool. The program enrolls approximately 80 children, about half of whom are affiliated with Smith College. 

The mission of the program is to provide exemplary early education and care for young children; to offer a laboratory for research and fieldwork for college students and faculty; and, to support the child care needs of families. 

Smith College students participate in the program in a variety of ways. Students work directly with children as members of classroom teaching teams through Student Financial Services, and complete observations and field work for courses in the departments of education and child study, psychology, art, engineering and the landscape studies program.

The facility, completed in August 2005, is located at Fort Hill on Lyman Road, about a half-mile from the center of Northampton, Massachusetts.

The teachers at Fort Hill are dedicated and responsive to children’s individual and group needs and work collaboratively with parents to develop a community of learners. Teachers thoughtfully plan the classroom environments and the curriculum is child-centered, emerging from children’s interests and based on a deep respect for children’s potential.

Contact Us

Smith College Center for Early Childhood Education
Fort Hill
28 Lyman Road
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Phone: 413-585-3290
Fax: 413-585-3292 

Director: Jennifer Godlesky

Assistant Director: Laurie DeMello

Office Coordinator: Lori McKenna 

Fort Hill Facts

Admission is open to children two months to five years of age. Smith College employees receive priority in admission. 

Application Deadline
February 14

Licensed Capacity
The program is licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.

  • Infant/ IT mixed: 7/8
  • Toddler: 9
  • Preschool: 54
  • IT mixed: 9
  • TP mixed: 10
  • Total capacity: 90

Age is determined by age at the start of the program. 

  • Infant: two months–15 months
  • Toddler: 15 months–two years and nine months
  • Preschool: three years old by December 1 to 4.11 years old

Teacher:Child Ratio

  • Preschool: 3:18
  • Infants: 3:7
  • Toddlers: 3:9

Classrooms are taught by a supervising teacher and one or two teachers. The program is supported by studio teachers in visual arts and music and by two rotating assistants who substitute when teachers are absent. The administration includes a director, assistant director and office coordinator. Smith College students participate in the program in a variety of ways. 


  • Academic-year: August-May, 40 weeks 
  • Summer: June-August, 10-week program (enrollment is open to children enrolled for an academic year)

Enrollment and Schedule Options
Enrollment is for the entire academic-year or summer session. Payroll deduction is available to Smith employees. Full-time enrollment receives priority.

  • Preschool: three-, four- or five-day enrollment, 8 a.m. arrival, option for 12:45, 2:45, 4:45 p.m. departure. 
  • Infant/Toddler: three-, four- or five-day enrollment, 8 a.m. arrival, option for 2:45 or 4:45 p.m. departure.

Children are placed in classrooms at the beginning of the academic-year and remain in the same classroom for the year. To the greatest extent possible, children remain with a familiar teacher for three years in the infant/toddler program.

Tuition Grants for Smith Employees
Benefited Smith employees are eligible for a tuition grant through the Office of Human Resources.

Tuition Rates
Tuition is determined by age at the start of the program. Tuition category (i.e., infant, toddler, or preschooler) applies for the academic year and the summer following that year. View our tuition rates.

The center follows the Smith College administrative calendar. The program also closes for the college spring recess in March and closes periodically for professional activities. There is a two-week closing in August between the end of the summer program and the beginning of the academic-year.

Admission Priorities

  1. Siblings of presently enrolled Smith children (siblings are defined as children concurrently attending CECE)
  2. Children of new Smith-affiliated families (Smith affiliation is defined as follows: at least one of the child's parents is a benefited faculty or staff member at Smith College, whether full or part-time) 
  3. Siblings of presently enrolled community children
  4. New community families

Reenrollment Placement Priorities

  1. Presently enrolled children of Smith-affiliated families (see above for definition of Smith-affiliated)
  2. Children of new Smith-affiliated families
  3. Children of presently enrolled community families

Other Admission/Reenrollment Placement Priorities

  • Full-time schedule requests have priority over part-time requests
  • Specific day requests within a part-time schedule will only be accomodated as space allows
  • Admission/reenrollment of non-Smith families to the Infant/Toddler Program does not guarantee placement for a subsequent year in the Infant/Toddler Program