For Tempe residents, Whitney and Chad Wilkinson, finding the perfect preschool for their 3-year-old daughter, Charlie, was important. A school that not only emphasized academics, but social readiness as well. Through Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center’s (SARRC) Community School, Charlie is getting a head start on all of those lessons.
When Whitney and Chad learned of SARRC’s Community School through a relative, they were interested in learning more about the school’s inclusive model.
“As a former teacher, I used to teach kids with autism, so I gravitated to the school knowing it would be a great opportunity for Charlie, and a great way to support kids with autism as well,” Whitney says.
As a family who has experienced autism first-hand, the Wilkinson’s believe the Community School has provided a great experience for Charlie to thrive.
The Community School has a strong focus on building a strong academic foundation through a robust curriculum. Students learn early literacy skills and even work on reports and class presentations. They also master the basics of numbers, letters, shapes and colors, as well as understanding different math concepts and participating in various science experiments.
“We love having her in a school where she is surrounded by kind, well-qualified teachers, and a student-to-teacher ratio we haven’t seen anywhere else,” Chad says.
In conjunction with a strong academic curriculum, SARRC’s Community School also incorporates a unique model underscoring social and communication skills. This blended learning model helps fosters an inclusive environment encouraging all students to understand each other and a chance to form strong friendships.
“She’s learning more patience and acceptance,” Whitney says. “Charlie is a friendly kid who always tries to include others, and the Community School is helping to strengthen those qualities.”
Charlie has been enrolled in the Community School for almost a year, and her parents can already see positive changes in her growth.
“I think this experience will help in Charlie’s growth as a person, and will help guide her to be someone who has a kind and open heart to all people,” Chad says.