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Preschool welcomes kids with and without disabilities

August 28, 2008 10:45:13 AM PDT
"Preschool for all" is the motto of Stock School, one of the best Chicago Public preschools. Located on Chicago's Northwest Side, Stock School has excelled in integrating children with and without disabilities in all of their education programs. Although preschool is a child's first educational experiences, it is an important one, especially for children with disabilities.

"I think one of the best ways to counteract the stereotyping is to make sure everybody goes to school together," said Dr. Richard Smith.

For 19 years, Dr. Smith has been the school's principal. He says, of all the preschoolers at the school, only 35 percent have disabilities.

"Our mission was to make sure we didn't segregate children just because they happen to be disabled," Dr. Smith said.

One of their successful students with a disability is Jade Urcina. She is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a 3.8 GPA. Dr. Smith always knew she would succeed.

"She was a very exceptional person, very smart, very motivated and very physically involved," said Dr. Smith.

Jade's mom said the school gave her daughter allot of support and encouragement. "This is more than a school; this is where dreams begin," she said.

Even after all these years, Jade has never forgotten Stock School.

"It was very accessible, and the teachers were great, so it's a very good school and it's comfortable for preschoolers," Jade said.

Because of Jade's success, Stock School honored her during their annual end-of-year celebration. She is an inspiration to all the students.

"This is a child who has significant physical disabilities, and for her to overcome that, there's a lot of factors involved. One, she has to have a supportive family, but she has to be incredibly motivated," said Dr. Smith.

Jade plans to go into the tourism field. She wants to write a travel book for people with disabilities.

Chicago Public Schools start Tuesday and hopefully others will value their education the same way Jade Urcina has.


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