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Building a bridge of understanding

"This integration has become part of our philosophy because it really benefits both groups of children, the typically developing and the children with needs," said McQueen. "It really works very well."

There is also a new parent group at the school, which Spring runs because she wanted to build stronger connections with other parents of children with disabilities. A lot of kids live in different municipalities within Schenectady County so she wanted her son to be able to see kids outside of schools to practice social skills and build friendships.

"I think the group overall is very well received, and I think the parents really want to participate," said Spring. "It is definitely gaining steam now."

The school serves around 80 special needs children and around 120 students total. There is currently a waiting list for parents wanting to get their children into the program.

The nursery school and daycare have grown mostly through word of mouth from parents satisfied with the curriculum, said McQueen.

The State Department of Education sets the ratio allowed in the classroom, which results to around 20 students with two teachers and two teaching assistants. While the maximum is 20, Blatt said the school doesn't want to have class sizes over 18 children.

McQueen attributed the success of the school to the teachers and staff members.

"We have staff that have been here almost the whole 25 years," said McQueen. "They are with the children on a daily basis and they are the ones making a difference in the lives of all these kids."

Angel Morales blows some bubbles during the 25th anniversary event at Schonowe Preschool on Tuesday, June 7.
Photo by John Purcell/Spotlight
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