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Children are thriving in an inclusive preschool environment at the Hood Canal School, where they learn surrounded by peers of all abilities.

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This is the second school year that the Hood Canal School District has made an inclusive preschool education available to families. Typically developing children are in the same classroom as children with special needs, including autism or Down Syndrome.

“In the real world we don’t separate kids with special needs from the kids who are typically developing, so we shouldn’t in a preschool setting,” said district preschool teacher and coordinator Catherine Carlson.  “It becomes a very powerful learning environment.”

Carlson first came to the district three years ago as a paraeducator and then as a preschool teacher. She worked with Director of Special Services Devon McColley-Hopkins to make the special needs preschool more inclusive.

“We were motivated by the success of the research-based studies replicated at universities all around the country,” Carlson said. “Research shows that a kiddo learning in an inclusive environment goes on to become more successful in the world.”

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