A BRIEF HISTORY OF HARRIS DEVELOPMENT CENTER FOR CHILDREN
The Harris Educational Center for Children (HECC), now Harris Development Center for Children (HDCC), began when the Kindergarten Department of Harris Memorial School was established in 1922 by Mrs. Brigida Fernando (nee Miss Garcia). She has just graduated from Columbia Teachers College, USA. She pioneered a Kindergarten class at P. Paredes, Sampaloc, Manila, the former site of Harris Memorial College. This school became the laboratory for students majoring in Kindergarten Education to practice the theories they learned in the classroom. The opening of the Kindergarten Department and the laboratory school made Harris the “Pioneer of Preschool Education in the Philippines”
Ms. Brigida Garcia, during those early years, promoted “Progressive Froebelian Education” under the influence of Patty Smith Hill, who was given the name the “Great Froebelian” in the New York Times in 1923. Ms. Garcia brought home with her a progressive Kindergarten philosophy, including samples and measurement of facilities and equipment that were ideal for a good Kindergarten. The program was interrupted by the war.
In 1948, the Kindergarten Department received government recognition and the teachers consequently were awarded a Junior Teacher’s certificate. Twenty years later, in 1968, the degree of Bachelor of Kindergarten Education was recognized by the Ministry of Education and Culture. This recognized degree in Kindergarten Education was the first to be offered in the Philippines. By this time, Harris Memorial School gained college status, becoming Harris Memorial College (Harris for brevity). The laboratory school, which was popularly called Harris Kindergarten School, became Harris Kindergarten-Nursery School when it opened a Nursery Class in 1965 to accommodate 3- and 4-year-old children. In 1978, it became the Harris Educational Center for Children (HECC).
In 1983, the Association of Christian Schools and Colleges designated Harris Memorial College as the center of Early Childhood Education. In September 1985, the National Historic Society officially recognized Harris as the Pioneer in kindergarten Education in the Philippines. The marker that carries the recognition was installed in April 1986.
In 1987, Harris Educational Center for Children was granted a five-year accreditation by the Association of Christian Schools and Colleges. The accreditation status was maintained by the College for every resurvey visit by the Accrediting Agency from 1987 until its last visit in 2014.
In 1988, Harris Memorial College transferred to Bo. Dolores, Taytay, Rizal from Taft and General Luna Streets, Manila. In 1989, upon the completion of its building and facilities, the Harris Educational Center for Children was also transferred and its name was changed to Harris Development Center for Children (HDCC).
In 1994, Harris was granted DECS permission to offer Grade 1. Thereafter, year after year, grade level had been added until it was fully recognized by DECS by its completion of Elementary grade in 1999.
Harris Memorial College continues to find ways by which its preschool program could become responsive to the changing needs of the society. At present, Harris is involved in different programs, such as publication of preschool workbooks, seminar-workshop for the continuing professional development of preschool teachers and administrators, preparation of training modules for teachers who have no background in Early Childhood Education, consultancy and support programs to church-related kindergarten schools, and recent publication of preschool curriculum. Harris is also in the process of preparing its resources for the offering of a graduate program in Early Childhood Education.