School board gets pre-K pilot update

Published 6:44 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Currently, Cumberland County Public Schools is piloting an inclusive pre-kindergarten classroom program. Previously, Early Childhood Special Education students were educated in a self-contained exclusionary setting and were transitioned into classes with general education peers as appropriate.

However, research supports that children with disabilities (even children with significant disabilities) who participate in classes with young children without disabilities make gains. Thus the pilot program was born where 3- and 4-year-olds are taught in a multi-age inclusive class, with a special educator working in collaboration with a general education teacher. Teachers and paraprofessionals work diligently to provide special services, instruction and supports to all students.

“Cumberland’s Early Childhood Inclusive Model incorporates the values, policies, and practices that support the right of every young child to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society,” Special Education Supervisor Bernice Ford said. “The desired results of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships and development and learning to reach their full potential.”

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Special educator Norma Crenshaw, general education teacher Melanie Kehoe and paraprofessional Patricia Newcomb made a presentation to the Cumberland School Board at its November meeting. They explained the program and outlined how it was working. All three educators were enthusiastic about the program, stating that it provided numerous benefits to all the students in the class.