About the Preschool Program
The South Hadley School District Preschool Program was established in 1988 as a special education program that educates students with and without disabilities and is housed within Plains Elementary School. Kindergarten and first grade students also attend Plains Elementary School, making it a true early childhood school setting. The preschool program follows the South Hadley Public Schools District Calendar and operates during the typical school year from September through June.
Children three years of age are potentially eligible for preschool. However, unlike other grades in the district, children three years of age residing in South Hadley are not automatically eligible to attend our program as it is a special education program with specific eligibility criteria for both students receiving special education services and those who are peer partners. Eligibility for special education for all preschool aged students is determined by a multidisciplinary team that includes the student’s family. To be considered for our program as a peer partner, your child must pass the preschool screening and meet the criteria for eligibility. For more information, please see our Application and Enrollment Process section.
The Plains Preschool Program runs Monday through Thursday, with no preschool on Fridays. Our sections of preschool include half-day programs; a morning and an afternoon session. There is also a full day option that is based upon the needs of our student population. There are currently four preschool classrooms in operation at Plains Elementary School.
The majority of our preschool sections are inclusive meaning that students with and without identified disabilities learn alongside each other. Each inclusive section has a maximum of fifteen students. In order for our program to be successful, peer partners from the community are invited to learn in our specially designed, integrated early childhood classrooms, where all benefit from effective and engaging experiences tailored to meet the needs of all students. The district does charge tuition for our peer partners. Peer partners are selected through our screening process.
All sections of preschool are taught by licensed teachers and highly qualified support staff. In addition, students in preschool have the benefit of being supported by clinicians and service providers who are experts in their field and who work closely with the classroom teacher and student teams to ensure the success of all students in the public school setting. Such providers include speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, behavior analysts, a school psychologist, and an adjustment counselor.
The Plains Preschool team continuously assesses the needs of the current and incoming student population and plans appropriate and meaningful programming to meet those needs. At this time, we currently have one section of preschool that is considered substantially separate and is specifically designed for students who require intensive support in the educational setting. The instructional methodology in the substantially separate setting includes Applied Behavior Analysis, ABA, and is taught by a special educator in collaboration with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, BCBA.