School celebrates first year

After its first year in business, one Delmar woman is pleased to see the fruits of her labor pay off for young children.

Her efforts began last September with six students enrolled at the Spotted Zebra Learning Center in Colonie. The integrated school offers an array of educational programs for children ages 3 to 5, with or without disabilities.

In March, the school reached full capacity with 36 students. As children end their first year, or choose to continue on through the summer, parents are praising the center, and its founder and Executive Director Sheri Townsend.

She has had an extraordinary explosion in vocabulary. Her speech was delayed at an early age, now she doesn't stop speaking, said Wendy Ko-walczyk of her daughter's progress at the school.

Kowalczyk enrolled her 5-year-old daughter, Emma, at the Spotted Zebra last year. Ear infections at an early age impaired Emma's ability to develop her speech. After searching of the area for pre-schools, Emma landed at the Spotted Zebra. It was an act of karma, said Kowalczyk.

Twice a day, five days a week, Emma gets hands-on assistance with her speech from certified teachers and educational therapy professionals. It's that hands-on special education program that Kowalczyk was looking for and couldn't find anywhere else in the region.

Dozens of parents have come to the Spotted Zebra for that reason, said Townsend.

"It's a full day pre-school, day care and has the capacity to serve to kids with special needs," she said.

It also serves the hectic schedules of working parents. The center provides therapy and education to children with a number of disabilities from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

From attention deficit disorder to autism of all levels, Townsend's endeavor was to integrate all children in one early learning program to give them an edge as they move into their respective public school districts.

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