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Former director of Child Labs dies

by Sherry Fisher - January 17, 2006

Charlotte Madison, former director of the University of Connecticut Child Development Laboratories, died Dec. 23. She was 64.

Madison, of Storrs, joined the University in 1978 as a master teacher in the infant/toddler program at the Child Development Laboratories (Child Labs). From 1980 to 1983, she was the Child Labs’ associate director. In that position, in addition to her administrative duties, she supervised student teaching and field work courses and co-taught a morning kindergarten program. She later became executive director. In that position, she gave seminars, lectured on music education and early literacy, and taught courses on childhood and adolescence. She retired in 2003.  

“Charlotte was an innovator in training for early childhood education,” says Charles Super, professor and dean of the School of Family Studies.

“She was a dedicated program director who cared deeply and worked tirelessly for the undergraduates in her classes and the children in her charge. She will be sorely missed by family and friends, the early childhood profession, and by a full generation of Child Labs families and graduates.”

Anne Bladen, interim director of the Child Labs, says she and Charlotte were good friends both in and out of work. “Charlotte loved children, literacy and music, and was passionate about sharing that with college students,” Bladen says. “She was a good soul.”

Donna Jones was her neighbor and friend. She says that when they met, they “quickly bonded. We both had a passion for gardening, and we turned our lawns into a park,” Jones says. “Charlotte was a gentle, kind, loving person.”

Madison, who was born in Piqua, Ohio, earned a bachelor of science degree in education (music and English) from Bowling Green State University in Ohio in 1964; a master’s degree in early childhood education from Saint Joseph College in West Hartford in 1977; and a Ph.D. in education in 1991 from UConn.

Madison had a passion for music of all kinds, says her daughter, Jennifer Navarro. She played the piano, flute, recorder, and guitar, and was known to many for her distinctive and rich voice. She sang with the choir at the Storrs Congregational Church for many years.

“She was passionate about children,” Navarro says. “Every child in her mind was the most important child in the world. I remember growing up waiting to see my mom in lines of children who were calling, ‘Charlotte, Charlotte.’ I have walked into her office many times to see her holding a child with a fever in her lap while balancing a budget for work, or on the phone with important matters.”

Madison worked on research projects including early literacy, language acquisition, music, child advocacy, child care issues, human services administration, and early childhood curriculum.

Madison is survived by three children, Matthew, Mark, and Jennifer; and four grandchildren.

A memorial fund has been established in her name to benefit the library at the Child Labs. Checks may be made out to The University of Connecticut Foundation Inc., 2390 Alumni Drive, U3206, Storrs, CT 06269-3206. On the check, please indicate Charlotte Madison Memorial Fund.

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