On Wednesday, Castel Rock Early Learning Center received a certificate of completion for LEAP (Learning Experiences: Alternatives for Preschoolers and Parents) Preschool certification. Kelly Martin, a senior research fellow from the University of Denver Positive Early Learning Experiences Center presented the award. Castle Rock’s preschool program provides a unique opportunity for students with disabilities and their peers to learn together in an inclusive environment.
LEAP Preschool is one of the longest-running early childhood programs in the country. It reflects both a behavioral and a developmentally appropriate approach for teaching children with and without disabilities within an inclusive early childhood environment.
Martin noted that the ability of Castle Rock staff to team and work together has allowed them to deliver high-quality instruction and reach incredibly high LEAP inclusion standards. Castle Rock teacher Wendy Graves led a team through the comprehensive and rigorous two-year LEAP certification process in just one year and achieved a record-high score of 96% on LEAP quality program indicators. Castle Rock will now serve as a learning lab for LEAP training in the Northwest.
Graves said even at the tail end of her career, she was excited and energized about the opportunity to go through the LEAP training program, and when a spot opened up, she didn’t even think twice before saying yes. High-quality inclusion is hard but worth it, she explained. “We are seeing its impact on students who need extra support in the classroom and their peers. When we have a student who struggles in the classroom and is non-verbal all the sudden start to speak and participate in classroom routines, it’s amazing,” said Graves.