- Shoreline Public Schools
State Leaders See Inclusive Practice in Action at Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center
Recently, a group of elected officials and state and regional education leaders visited Shoreline Schools’ Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center (EPELC). They were joined by School Board directors, Superintendent Reyes, EPELC staff, and district leaders for a tour of the building and an overview of the inclusive learning program.
Representatives of the UW Haring Center for Inclusive Education coordinated the visit to showcase how the preschool supports an inclusive model of special education, Head Start, and tuition preschool programs in shared classrooms. The visit was hosted by Co-Directors of Early Learning Hillery Clark and Amy Vujovich and Early Learning Coordinator Stephanie Gregorich.
“We are extremely proud of the inclusive educational model here at Edwin Pratt. Our students benefit from and make tremendous growth in every one of our classrooms. Children learn in classroom communities that reflect their neighborhood and home communities,” shared Amy Vujovich, Co-director of Early Learning. “It is hard work, and takes a serious commitment from every person involved. Our preschool staff are incredible!”
The Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center opened in 2018, named for a local civil rights leader who was assassinated at his home in Shoreline. As the center was designed and built, the preschool leadership and staff engaged in rigorous work, including program restructuring, professional development, and a lot of self-reflection about how to create an early learning facility that best serves the needs of every preschooler and their families.
When planning to welcome children, families, and staff from three programs that had been in separate spaces, the program leaders and the construction team worked to make the building feel more like a home and less like a school. Intentional touches such as a pitched roof and concrete siding bring warmth and familiarity to young learners who are likely going to school for the first time. Large classrooms allow children to have space to learn and grow, as well as share meals in their classrooms. Outdoor spaces connected to each room are called “backyards” and create an extension of the classroom. Thoughtfully designed entries and play spaces are accessible to all, and the building incorporates space for therapy services near classrooms with age-appropriate features.
“I appreciate our community's support of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. Approval of the 2017 bond made funding possible for the construction of Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center,” says Superintendent Susana Reyes. “Their support of the district’s vision to provide such a wonderful space for learning for our littlest learners is invaluable and will enrich our community for generations to come.”
As a UW Haring Center demonstration site for inclusive education practices, the preschool often hosts visitors from across the state and region, and even internationally. However, this was the first time the school welcomed members of state education and legislative leadership, who visited to learn more about the best practices first hand and the realities of paving the way for inclusive education in an early learning setting.
“It was exciting to have visitors including legislators and OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) state leadership who are key partners to ensuring needed funding and expansion of inclusive and equitable practices in our schools. With Shoreline Schools’ long term vision of expanding district capacity, the investment of board members and district leadership to also be part of the partnership and ongoing conversation is vital,” said RinaMarie Leon-Guerrero, UW Haring Center IPP Demo Sites Project Lead.
Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center is one of 16 demonstration sites across Washington state, including 4 preschools, which are supported by the UW Haring Center. Demonstration sites host visits and open their doors for others to come and see inclusionary practices in action. EPELC highlights the following inclusionary practices:
- Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
- Inclusive Vision and Mission
- Braided funding
The term “inclusive education” refers to students of all abilities participating, academically and socially, in general education classrooms with same-age peers in a meaningful way. And while this practice is proving successful at Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center, it is far from the norm in preschools across Washington and the United States, due to longstanding structural and fiscal barriers and the inherent biases present in the educational system, which make putting inclusive practices into action challenging.
"Inclusive education is so important for all of Washington's children and families. Children learn through play as they gain school readiness skills, and it is so critical that we have quality spaces for them to grow. Places like the Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center not only benefit the families whose children attend, but the entire community as a whole," remarked Senator Claire Wilson (D-Federal Way) after her visit to Edwin Pratt ELC.
After the formal tour and the visitors’ discussion concluded, a few visitors had the opportunity to visit a classroom and meet some curious, enthusiastic preschoolers. Legislators and education leaders were treated to story time, questions, snack preparations, and spirited goodbyes from the young students before they departed the school.
Co-director Hillery Clark reflected, “Where everyone belongs is more than a motto—it drives the way we support, teach, play, and celebrate every day. Being able to share this work with the state and regional leaders was powerful. We know this can, and should, be the kind of educational environment every child deserves.”
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
- David Green - Program Supervisor
- Ryan Guzman - Early Childhood Special Education
- Cassie Martin - Executive Director Special Education
- Tania May - Assistant Superintendent Special Education
- Michaela Miller - Deputy Superintendent
- Jon Mishra - Assistant Superintendent Early Learning Education
- Katy Payne - Executive Director Communications
- Jenny Plaja - Executive Director Government Relations
- Michael Althauser - K-12 Policy Counsel, Wa Dems
- Yuval Berenstein - Legislative Assistant
- Heather Lewis-Lechner - K-12 Policy Counsel, Wa Dems
- Jesse Salomon - Senator, 32nd District
- Tana Senn - Representative and Chair, Children, Youth & Families Committee
- Claire Wilson - Senator & Vice Chair, Early Learning Committee
Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD)
- Courtney O’Catherine - Director Special Services
Shoreline School Board
- District #5 Sara Betnel
- District #3 Dr. Sarah Cohen
- District #4 President Dr. Rebeca Rivera
- District #2 Vice President Emily Williams
UW Haring Center
- Cassie Borges - Inclusion Specialist
- RinaMarie Leon-Guerrero - Demonstration Sites Project Lead
- Molly Lyman - Project Coordinator
Shoreline School District
- Hillery Clark - Early Learning Co-Director
- Trish Campbell - Executive Director of Student Services
- Stephanie Gregorich - Early Learning Coordinator
- Dr. Susana Reyes - Superintendent
- Courtney Ryan - Early Learning Instructional Coach
- Dan Stevens - Director of Maintenance, Operations, and Capital Projects
- Amy Vujovich - Early Learning Co-Director