Dr. Lori Harkness, left, director of Stephen F. Austin State University's Early Childhood Lab and campus coordinator for the SFA Charter School, and her mother, Kathleen McGough, a faculty member in SFA's Department of Languages, Cultures and Communication, recently established the Lori McGough Harkness Early Childhood Lab Scholarship at SFA to assist families who have more than one child enrolled in the ECHL.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - A mother-daughter team recently established the Lori McGough Harkness Early Childhood Lab Scholarship at Stephen F. Austin State University to help offset the cost of quality child care and education.

The scholarship is named in honor of Dr. Lori Harkness, director of SFA's Early Childhood Lab and campus coordinator of the SFA Charter School. Her mother, Kathleen McGough, is a faculty member in SFA's Department of Languages, Cultures and Communication.

"This scholarship is the first of its kind at SFA," Jill Still, SFA vice president for university advancement, said. "Many parents within our community desire for their children to attend this exemplary program. This scholarship will assist families with the costs associated with dual enrollment while honoring a dedicated leader whose focus and lifelong work has been devoted to children."

The scholarship will provide assistance for families who have more than one child enrolled in SFA's Early Childhood Lab. Both parents must be working full time or be enrolled as full-time SFA students and must not qualify for additional child care funding through any other program. The scholarship will be awarded each semester.

"Child care is expensive. Quality child care is even more priceless," Harkness said. "I value the ECHL and know exactly what it offers and provides each child. All four of my children would not be who they are without the ECHL teachers and staff members. It can be a struggle to pay for multiple children to attend. I wanted to help provide support for those families who work hard and truly sacrifice for their children."

McGough said her daughter's love and concern for children is what inspired them to create the scholarship.

"Being able to offer monetary help to families who have more than one child in the lab is something Lori feels is necessary," McGough said. "Lori is concerned about every child who comes through the lab's doors. Her care and love for 'her SFA children' is what drives her to offer the very best education and life skills for each one."

Harkness has worked at SFA for more than 22 years. Her connection to the university began in 1993 when she was a student pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. As a student, she worked in the ECHL where she served as a teacher's assistant. She later received her Master of Education from SFA in 1998.

"Children have always been a priority for me," Harkness said. "As I've worked at the ECHL for many years, I have witnessed firsthand how much parents sacrifice to give their children the opportunity to grow and learn here."

The lab offers early care and education programs for young children in the Nacogdoches community and serves five age groups, including classes for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. The program offers year-round, full-time care from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. SFA students preparing to work with young children and their families assist in the lab, which is designed to facilitate the total development of young children.

"This has been a dream of Lori's for many years - to make an impact on the lives of the children who attend the lab. She's dedicated her entire adult life to the SFA Early Childhood Lab," McGough said. "I'm so proud of Lori and her generosity and love as well as her dedication and compassion for the children and their families."

For information on how to apply for this scholarship, contact April Smith, associate director of development at SFA, at (936) 468-2278.