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"I'm forever grateful!" - ECSE preschool program prepares students for K-12 success

ECSE teacher with studentDee Omaits knows the difference Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) preschool makes in the lives of students.

As a staff member, she sees first-hand the growth of students to prepare them for a successful start in school.

As a parent of a former ECSE student, she has seen how it changed the very direction of her son – a Henry Ford II High School graduate who is now studying business at Grand Valley.

“I know this program got him there,” she said. “I am forever grateful.”

The ECSE is a language-development based program for 2 ½ to five year old students. The students are referred as needing additional support to prepare for kindergarten.

To do that, according to Beacon Tree ECSE Teacher Angela Jolley, the first goal is to create a love of learning.

“We want to create that love of learning and once we establish that, we teach them how to be a student,” she said.

The good student part is a mixture of basic skills – such as following school rules and taking care of their supplies – to academic foundation in areas like vocabulary, fine motor skills, and social and emotional development.

It is usually in the first few weeks that the staff and families will begin to see noticeable improvements in acclimation to the routine and communication skills that are an essential part of the program. 

“We need to prepare them for kindergarten,” she said. “To give them the skills and independence so that when they go there they start school successfully.”


Utica Community Schools has nine ECSE classrooms across the district. To learn more about the program and our Special Services programs, we encourage you to attend our Pathways to Success event on January 17 at Henry Ford II High School.