The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 14, 2000


Preschool program team seeks national accreditation

Carlisle School preschool teachers have set their sights on having the brand new program accredited by the National Association of Educating Young Children (NAEYC). The two preschool teachers, Shelly Hardimon and Hilary Claiborne, have been working hard to achieve this goal. Hardimon told the Carlisle School Committee on April 4 that they have received results from a questionnaire sent to families. The teachers are creating a portfolio which will contain preschool procedures, student goals, a description of the program, policies, job descriptions for aides and a parent handbook.

The Carlisle Public School's "integrated" preschool program evolved in 1998 because there were special-needs students in town who would otherwise have been sent to programs in other school districts. State law requires that towns and cities be responsible for the funding of preschool instruction for children with special needs starting at age 3 to age 22.

Hardimon commented that specialists are integrated into the program; speech therapists Karen Condouris and Cynthia Samuels work with children to develop speech and language skills and occupational therapist Debbie O'Halloran helps strengthen students' fine and large motor skills as well as eye-hand coordination.

"Parents are encouraged to see what is happening and be involved in the program. They have two or more conferences a year with the teachers," Claiborne said.

Director of Special Education Dr. Linda Stapp explained that these teachers had started from scratch and had done a tremendous amount of work. National accreditation provides a standard and guidance in preschool education.

Stapp commented, "The savings are huge for Carlisle to have its own preschool, because individual tuitions for outside placements can be $25,000 to $30,000. Not only is it the most cost effective way, but control is maintained over the program for special-needs students. In addition, all the students in Carlisle benefit by the diversity of the student population. Carlisle is a model of inclusion."

The special-needs students are joined by ten three- and four-year-olds from town who pay a fee to attend the preschool. Next year, the fee will be $210 a month, up from the present $180. The children have class time together Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. On Tuesday and Thursday, the special-needs children receive specific training from language, speech and occupational therapists. The teachers stated that special needs students benefit from early assistance and all the students benefit from the resources of the public school as well as being together in a standard classroom.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito