Walnut Ridge preschool teachers recognized by SCARC

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The preschool program for students with disabilities, teachers and staff of the Walnut Ridge Primary School in Vernon were awarded the Sussex County ARC Special Education Teachers of the Year Award.

The Walnut Ridge Primary School preschool program is an extensive program serving more than 70 preschoolers with disabilities within the Walnut Ridge Primary School in which students with disabilities are integrated with kindergarteners and 1st graders without disabilities.

Multiple outstanding teachers and teaching assistants collectively implement the nationally recognized Tools of the Mind integrated preschool program to benefit students with intellectual and developmental needs. The Vernon Township School District prides itself in providing its preschool students with an integrated program with nondisabled peers. The Tools of the Mind program aligns directly with the New Jersey Preschool Standards as well as nationally recognized Common Core State Standards.

Educational professionals involved in the program are: Gwen Bicskei, Dana Cook, Lesley Falgiano, Suzanne MacDougall, Amy Hamilton, Marlene Zerbe, Michael Moschella, Todd Piontkowski, as well as the oversight of school principal, Rosemary Gebhardt.

The Vernon Township preschool program has received accolades from the professional educational community, and has been applauded by parents whose children attend the daily program. The preschool program is built on the renowned pedagogical principles of explicit modeling, the development of language skills, play planning, the development of self-regulation and self-control, literacy development, the used of applied behavioral analysis techniques, implementation of discrete trials, and other educational tools anchored in effective educational research. Through themed-based teaching, the teachers and therapists teach self-regulation, strengthen oral language skills and build vocabulary, and practice conversing with peers while engaging in positive social interactions.

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