SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //

Schiff logo - OptimizedTemple Emanu-El’s Schiff Preschool in Atlanta will soon offer a newly created inclusion program for children with special needs. Schiff FIRST (an acronym for Friendship, Inclusiveness, Respect, Success and Trust) will emphasize innumerable benefits of an integrated classroom experience to both typically-developing children and those with special needs.

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The initiative will offer three children with complementary mild developmental differences the opportunity to be part of one of the school’s pre-K classes, for which an additional support teacher trained in working with learning differences will work collaboratively with the teachers and all students on a daily basis. The other classroom teachers and key staff at the school will receive additional training to provide the best possible experience for all the children and families.

“Our preschool is built on a strong foundation that children should have the opportunity and right to be successful and valued for what they can gain and give back to the classroom environment,” said Sheila Purdin, director. “While we’ve had many children with special needs participate in our programs in the past, we saw this as a significant way to create a structured, collaborative classroom experience that benefits all children.”

The families of the three students will share the cost of the facilitator teacher but will also have the option of applying for tuition scholarship to help offset some of the expenses. Schiff administrators are also working with Jewish Family & Career Services to help facilitate the screening and evaluation process.

The school will be utilizing the resources of the Union of Reform Judaism’s Early Childhood Education Community of Practice group to gain peer input from preschool administrators and lay leaders across North America.

For more information, visit templeemanuelatlanta.org.

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