Sponsored by Carol Kirby, Principal, The Children’s Center for the Physically Disabled in Winston-Salem

How many times have you driven by the little red brick school on the corner of Reynolda and Coliseum? Have you ever wondered what is happening inside? It’s time to find out!

The Children’s Center for the Physically Disabled has been a place of hope and love for children with disabilities for over 58 years. Begun as a United Way agency, we now are supported by the United Way, the public school system, and Smart Start of Forsyth County. Our fifteen classrooms are filled with happy, busy children, from birth through age eleven, who are going about the “business” of productive play and hands-on learning.

We offer music classes twice weekly with the acclaimed Dr. Lee Beall, parachute play and bowling in our carpeted gym, visits from the Winston-Salem Symphony, the North Carolina ballet and the UNCSA Opera Company. We hop onto our two private mini-buses to visit the firehouse, the grocery store, or the pumpkin patch. And of course we are very excited that our children travel to Riverwood Stables for horseback riding classes!

We are clearly a wondrous place for special needs children to learn and grow. But as principal of “the little school on the corner” I am delighted to make you aware of our programs for typically-developing children as well. We believe strongly that children with and without disabilities have much to offer one another in an educational setting.   Great things happen for everyone when diverse groups of children learn and play side-by-side!

For the last seventeen years, we have supported an “inclusive” program for our preschool classes. This program places three non-disabled children in each of our three-year-old and four-year-old classrooms. The remainder of the class is made up of children with a variety of special needs. (Class sizes are generally in the range of seven to nine children.) The curriculum is theme and activity-based, and developmentally appropriate for all children. Because we are affiliated with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system, our teachers all hold NC teaching licenses, many with masters degrees and National Board Certification – unheard of in most child care settings! In addition, we are a five-star licensed center, the “gold standard” for North Carolina preschools.

Three years ago, we were thrilled to add a regular kindergarten class to our building. This class is a typical kindergarten, like any other class in the Forsyth County school system, but as a “magnet” class, children from all over the county can enroll and receive school system transportation to our site. Our kindergarten offers a lower class size (generally 8-12 children), often perfect for parents unsure about whether to start their child in kindergarten, or wait an extra year. The chance to be part of a small school “family” (105 children) rather than entering a school of 600, 800, or 1,000 students, is especially attractive to many moms and dads. And of course, since this is a school system kindergarten, there is no charge whatsoever.

We offer both a full day (7:45 – 2:30, $500) and half day (7:45 – 12:00, $350) program for preschoolers. Child care is available on site before and after school (7:00 – 7:30 and 2:30 – 5:30) through Imprints. Before and after school child care fees can be obtained by calling Imprints at 722-6296, x206.

We welcome the opportunity to show you our school! (We also have a “sister school,” The Special Children’s School, which is located on Shattalon Drive. Together our two sites make up The Centers for Exceptional Children.) Please call us at any time at 727-2440 to set up a tour.

We are now enrolling for the 2011-2012 school year. Spaces are limited, so even if you have a one or two-year-old, it’s not too early to get on our waiting list! You can also contact me directly with any questions at cakirby@wsfcs.k12.nc.us.

PS: Carol took me on a tour of The Children’s Center and I was so impressed with the facility.  I knew of a “typically-developing” child who attended The Children’s Center for preschool, and he – and his parents – could not say enough great things. Carol, thanks for sharing all this information and for getting the word out about your programs! – Katie

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