Crystal Adams, who joined the Stephen F. Austin State University Early Childhood Laboratory as director in June, is no stranger to Nacogdoches, the university or the ECHL. 

Adams is a lifelong Nacogdoches resident and received her bachelor’s degree from SFA in interdisciplinary studies in 2010. She earned her master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Texas at Tyler in 2012 and a master’s degree in school counseling in 2013.

Adams previously worked at the ECHL as assistant to the director from 2007 through 2010, and she has spent years with Nacogdoches ISD in a number of roles, including teacher, counselor and assistant principal in middle and elementary schools. 

“Crystal is exceptionally prepared to hold the director’s position and to be able to provide appropriate instructional leadership and coordinate professional development for the lab’s professional staff,” said Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of SFA’s Perkins College of Education. “During the past 11 years, Crystal was employed with Nacogdoches ISD at the middle and elementary school levels. That employment allowed her to come to know many families across the community, which has been helpful as she stepped into the director role at the lab,” Abbott said. 

As she takes on the lead position at the ECHL, Adams said she’s excited to get to know the children and play a pivotal part in their lives.

“My absolute favorite part of the job is interacting with children and learning more about them and their families,” Adams said. “Children have a special ability to make you laugh and smile no matter what. I see my role as director as an advocate for them. Everything I do is based on putting their safety, needs, health and learning first.”

The ECHL’s program offers benefits for SFA students, area children ages infant through pre-kindergarten and the community. The facility provides a learning laboratory for SFA educator candidates to observe teacher and student interactions. Area children benefit by receiving an education focused on their total development. Curriculum is intended to develop intellectual and personal competence rather than training children in performing a limited set of academic skills. 

The community also benefits by having a state-of-the-art learning laboratory nearby, where children receive personalized instruction from experienced teachers who also are mentoring SFA education students training to be the next generation of teachers. 

“The university is well-known for its teaching program. It is the foundation SFA was built on,” Adams said. “I’m proud to be associated with an integral part of that legacy. The Early Childhood Laboratory is such a unique facility. It provides the forum for college and young students to come together to learn from each other and our educators.”

Adams has set goals for the laboratory, including expanding to serve more students and families, partnering with local schools, and incorporating a dual language program. She also hopes to be able to resume fundraising activities to help support the lab. 

For more information about the ECHL, visit https://www.sfasu.edu/echl/.