I have been involved with Northland Early Education Center (NEEC) since 1998, when our daughter, Chase, was born with Down Syndrome. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without the school. As new parents, of a child with special as well as medical needs, we had no idea where to turn.
The Northland Early Education Center was a savior for us. The teachers and staff not only took exceptional care of our sick child, but they also provided our daughter with the early education and therapy services she needed. The early intervention Chase received from the therapists and teachers at NEEC has allowed her to grow and develop into an independent, bright young girl. She is a witty, smart and loving young lady who was given the opportunity to succeed because the people in her life believed in her and encouraged her to reach her full potential.
In 2002, my experience with the school inspired me to become the Executive Director. I wanted to see the school succeed and offer more children in the community the same services and opportunities that Chase received. In 2006, we were fortunate to have another child, which gave me the opportunity to personally experience the impact the school has on a child with typical needs. Parker, our son, was also able to grow up in the fully inclusive environment of NEEC. He has grown to be a smart young boy with compassion and empathy for all people.
The first 5 years of a child’s life are the most important to their growth and development. The environment at NEEC provides children with special needs the opportunity to learn by watching and imitating their peers, as well as teaching children without developmental disabilities the important life lessons of diversity, compassion and acceptance. The teaching model we follow allows children with special needs to reach developmental milestones ahead of schedule, while providing children without developmental disabilities the self-confidence they need to be successful in public school and beyond. NEEC’s unique and special preschool offers the benefits of inclusion, low student-to-teacher ratios, and a Project Construct curriculum, creating an environment where children’s early development and kindergarten preparedness come first.
It is a wonderful experience to be associated with a school that has such an impact on children and their families. Each year we are reaching more families of children with special needs while maintaining the fully inclusive environment which benefits all children in the Northland community. In the recent years the need for these services has grown considerably, and as a result, NEEC has an extensive waiting list. We are responding to this community need by initiating a capital campaign which will allow the school to expand the current facility and increase our enrollment by 58%.
I am so excited for the future of NEEC…the possibilities for the school and the children we serve are endless.