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Preschool programs offer an inclusive environment for all students

Preschool programs offer an inclusive environment for all students

Preschool programs offer an inclusive environment for all students

Name changes will be made in the fall.

Next school year will bring a change to the moniker of the Mercer Island School District’s Early Education Program.

The MISD Inclusive Preschool program, which is located at Northwood Elementary School, will now be called the MISD Inclusive Preschool Programm. It will welcome approximately 40 students with and not disabilities through its doors.

Beth DeGrace, the district’s assistant director of special services, discussed the change: “Our families in the community really know our program to serve students with disabilities. I felt like we did need to change the name to reflect the change that we are making, which is to provide an inclusive environment for students on the Island, including those with and without disabilities.”

DeGrace stated that the preschool program’s enrollment should increase from the current 25 students for half-day morning and after-school sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays to the current enrollment of 25. The district hopes to have 50 percent of its students receive special education services in the four sessions that each have 10 students.

Parents are excited with the district’s new direction and want their children to be part of the program, DeGrace said of those Islanders she’s interacted with. She added that through research, they’ve found that the inclusive environment translates into more meaningful friendships and an enhanced sense of belonging.

The district will continue to utilize its curriculum based on early childhood standards to promote academic, social, communicative, behavioral and motoric growth and development, according to DeGrace and the program’s page on the district website.

Washington state certified teachers and up to two teacher assistants are at the helm. A multidisciplinary service team includes occupational therapists physical therapists speech therapists and other educational specialists.

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DeGrace said the district’s plans of shifting the program to an inclusive preschool were put on hold due to the pandemic, “So now, I feel like we’re on a great trajectory with the start of next year.”

The changes are both on the state and local level with inclusivity in schools and instruction aligning with the district’s values, DeGrace said.

Preschool applicants must be MISD residents at least 3 years of age by Sept. 1, 2022. They also need to demonstrate strong communication and social skills.

Visit www.amazon.com for more information https://www.mercerislandschools.org/Page/5864.

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