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Norwalk celebrates opening of new pre-school center

From left, Norwalk Early Childhood Center Director Kristen Mosher, Board of Education member Yvel Crevecoeur, Mayor Harry Rilling, Common Council member Thomas Livingston

From left, Norwalk Early Childhood Center Director Kristen Mosher, Board of Education member Yvel Crevecoeur, Mayor Harry Rilling, Common Council member Thomas Livingston, State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143), State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) and Norwalk Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Michael Conner mark the opening of the Norwalk Early Childhood Center (NECC). Also in the picture but obscured are BoE member Bryan Meek and State Rep. Fred Wilms (R-142). (Photo by Harold Cobin)

Children enjoy one of the classrooms Wednesday in the new Norwalk Early Childhood Center at 11 Allen Road. (Harold Cobin)

Children enjoy one of the classrooms Wednesday in the new Norwalk Early Childhood Center at 11 Allen Road. (Photo by Harold Cobin)

NORWALK – A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday morning at the Norwalk Early Childhood Center, the public school system’s new facility dedicated to pre-school learning.

The six-classroom facility is housed within a portion of the former Roosevelt Elementary School at 11 Allen Road, which last held classes as a public school in 1974.

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story

Following a $2.9 million renovation, each classroom has been extensively refurbished to serve the needs of 3- and 4-year-olds, including nearly all of the system’s pre-school special education students.

“The center will be home to a program that has been designed to support the development and needs of each child through age-appropriate academics, cognitive, emotional, language and physical activities,” Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski said in his remarks before the ribbon cutting.

It also has a creative arts program that features music, art, theater and movement, Adamowski said.

Mayor Harry W. Rilling noted that by establishing the center, the city avoids having to send students out of district.

“We can serve their needs here,” said Rilling, “which is better for them because going out of district is very difficult, is very trying not only for them, but for their parents, but it’s also something that ─ it’s not the most important, but certainly important ─ is that we’re going to be saving the City of Norwalk a lot of money.”

The Norwalk Early Childhood Center. (Photo by Harold Cobin)

The Norwalk Early Childhood Center. (Photo by Harold Cobin)

Rilling also said that investing money in Norwalk’s young people provides a greater return than any other investment the city could make.

Each classroom has up to 18 children, evenly divided between typical and special needs students. A teacher and two para-professionals are assigned to each class.

The students attend for half a day, with morning and afternoon sessions. The center has a capacity for 208 students between the two sessions.

Besides classrooms, the building has offices for the school’s director, speech and language, occupational, physical and behavioral therapists, and a nurse’s station. It also incorporates the gym from the original school.

Having all of this under one roof “helps so much just with the efficiency of delivery of services,” said the school’s director, Kristen Mosher.

Mosher noted that previously, she, as the special education supervisor for pre-school classes, and the support staff had to travel to six schools.

One full-day special education class continues at Fox Run Elementary School.

“It’s a very functional space for the application and what they’re using here,” said William Hodel, who, as the school system’s director of facilities and maintenance, oversaw the restoration project.

Hodel noted the school also has a newly-installed video surveillance system and security features that control access into the building and enable teachers to lock their classrooms in the event an intruder has gained entry.

5 comments

Joanna Cooper September 15, 2016 at 9:34 am

To see this project come to fruition is great news for Norwalk Preschool students and staff. The former SPED director Ms. Fensore had worked hard to see this center created. Then there was a time when it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. I’m happy her work was not lost and Dr. Adamowski and his staff saw it was completed. It’s fantastic to have it finally open this year. It is a beautiful bright cheerful place for kids. Having SPED service providers in one place does make the integration of SPED services much easier and more effective (a CREC report directive). The addition of having “Arts for Healing” working there too is a huge asset to their programming. Good luck to students and staff. I’m sure you are enjoying this beautiful newly renovated building and preschool program model.

SPED supporter September 15, 2016 at 9:50 am

Thank you Chrissy Fensore for your vision and creation of this must needed school. You and former Super Intendant worked diligently on this, mostly late night and weekend meetings. There was incredible resistance from the BOE to support this project, and was at one point it was shut down and rejected entirely. It would be appropriate for the BOE to recognize this and give credit where credit is due. We parents know that this was all because of you and your passion to help our most special children! Here’s hoping the new administration can appropriately follow thru on you plans.

Piberman September 15, 2016 at 11:21 am

Yet another demonstration of what our competent and admired BOE and Supt. can achieve for our City.
They deserve the “photo op”.

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