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Preschool offers new options

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Parents with special needs children have a new option for preschool and extended care.

Steps for Success is a year-round, not-for-profit developmental preschool that focuses on teaching each student based on his or her needs.

Valerie McElheny, of rural Rockville, Kristi Cundiff and Pam Burns, both of Brazil, decided to open the private preschool June 12, after realizing there was a need for a facility that could handle and care for children with special needs.

Special needs children are not the only children accepted, typically developing children can also be enrolled.

At one of the first visits, each child gets a developmental evaluation to determine his or her social-emotional, cognitive, adaptive self-help, gross and fine motor skills.

Each day the owners of the preschool integrate learning with hands-on experiences, setting a theme for each week. Children participate in a structured activities for sensory integration and to help them learn social skills.

"We provide a loving, nurturing environment for their educational needs," said McElheny.

Eighteen children are enrolled in the summer camp. Children with autism, chromosomal abnormalities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Down syndrome, epilepsy and typically developing children join to play and learn in an atmosphere without prejudice.

According to Cundiff, the children watch out for each other, help each other and respect each other as if they were all adults that had known each other for a long time and surpassed prejudice.

Speech, occupational and physical therapy by Kids Advance Rehab is available on-site if needed.

McElheny is the director of administration and has a bachelor's degree in social work and a master's degree in criminology.

Cundif is the director of education and has a bachelor's degree in psychology with an emphasis on lifespan development and is working on a master's degree in special education.

Burns is the director of curriculum and has a bachelor's degree in education, master's degree in special education and is working on a doctorate in educational psychology.

For the summer camp, hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the cost is $85 per week. For an additional cost each week, extended care is available before and after preschool, allowing the child to have care from 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. The summer session is available for children age 2-5.

The fall and spring sessions run with the Vigo County School Corporation calendar. Each school day will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the cost is $90 per week. Extended care is available before and after preschool for $2.50 per hour. The fall session is available for children age 3-5, or children who will turn 3 before December.

Tuition covers supplies, activities and snacks for students.

Steps for Success is located in the old Indiana State University Driver Education building on the Vigo County Fairgrounds.

To register your child in Steps for Success or for more information, call McElheny at 812-234-8494.

Donations are appreciated and tax deductible. Mail donations to Steps for Success, P.O. Box 11368, Terre Haute, IN 47801.



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