Preschool Students Enjoy Using New PlayLab


The following article was published by The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio:


Preschool students using Cornerstone Annex enjoy PlayLab


By LINDA HALL Staff Writer Published: September 10, 2016 4:00 AM

WOOSTER DISTRICT — In anticipation of a new early childhood education center — a project still undergoing final design and preparation to go out to bid — for Cornerstone Elementary School by the Wooster City School District, Littlest Generals preschool classes moved into Cornerstone Annex and three of Tri-County Educational Service Center’s preschool classes relocated from the Annex to Ida Sue School.

Arrangements are temporary for the 2016-17 school year.

Those students in the Annex are enjoying the new PlayLab, which opened with the new school and year and incorporates a fenced preschool section.

“There are lots of places to run,” said Littlest Generals teacher Christy Tolbert of the new space.

Stephanie Hendrix, also a Littlest Generals teacher, praised the “natural elements (developers) have incorporated into the playground.”

Preschool students are also able to use the main PlayLab, including Danny’s Hill, which can be climbed via stairs, a ramp and cargo netting.

“We haven’t tried it yet,” Hendrix said, adding, “We’ll slowly work our way over there,” as rules and protocol are learned and absorbed by students.

One of the highlights of the PlayLab is its accessibility, especially appreciated because of students with special needs attending Cornerstone Elementary.

When the early education center becomes a reality, all preschool classes will be housed there, including the Tri-County ESC classes now operating at Ida Sue School.

The Tri-County preschool classes remaining at the Annex are attended by typically developing 3- to 5-year-old students and students with individualized educational plans.

They’re all able to use the new playground because of its accessibility features, making it available to all students.

Special needs students attending preschool in the Annex include children with mobility limitations, visual and hearing impairments and autism.

“We have a lot of kiddos who are non-verbal,” said Tri-County ESC teacher Mary Flory, who explained that parents whose typically developing children attend classes with special needs students see the positive impact.

The typically developing children are “learning to be good helpers, learning about all varieties of abilities and becoming more compassionate,” Flory said.

Just as the playground equipment and layout are adaptable for all needs, teachers of classes populated by typically developing children and children with special needs make the accommodations necessary.

“I modify my lesson plans,” said teacher Stephanie Duell, who has two assistants, one of whom is a licensed practical nurse. A second licensed practical nurse is on hand for one-on-one attention to a medically fragile student.

For example, Duell will work with higher functioning students on letters and words and with lower functioning students on holding a pencil.

“I just do what each kid needs,” she said.

“I try to work with the typically developing kids while others have free play time, then switch,” Flory said.

Reporter Linda Hall can be reached at 330-264-1125, ext. 2230, or


Check out some photos of this beautiful playground here.