Education feature: Los Ninos, literacy program joining forces

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Los Ninos Early Intervention Center teacher Jessica Maulding helps Jasmine Brophy, 3, add glue to her drawing of a bear. The pair shook coffee grounds over the glue to make a brown bear.

Los Ninos Early Intervention Center and the Title I Family Literacy programs have joined to bring more services to both groups of students.

The move was a vision of two former Clovis Municipal School administrators. Cindy Osburn, former student support services director, and Ladona Clayton, former deputy superintendent, wanted to see an early intervention center on both sides of town. Lincoln-Jackson Family Center will serve as the second early intervention center. Directors of both programs jumped at the opportunity.

Suzanne Rebman with Los Ninos said she is excited about being able to help more children.

“There is a huge need in our community for quality early intervention,” Rebman said. “Both staffs we have here now are all on the same page as far as helping children go.”

Cynthia Gonzalez, coordinator of the program at Lincoln-Jackson, said the combination will be beneficial for students and parents.

Family literacy parents are required to attend a family leadership institute each month. Gonzalez said that when the programs joined this year, early childhood parents began to attend the institute.

“Parents learn more from each other than that person standing up there,” Gonzalez said.

The family literacy program identifies 4-year-olds who are at risk to have educational issues while the early intervention program services students ages 2-5 who have been identified to have developmental delays or disabilities. Students are identified as needing help by being screened by an early childhood special educator.

The joint program will utilize the peer role model system already set in place at Los Ninos. In the peer role model program, children who are considered to be developing typically are placed in the classroom with developmentally delayed students. Rebman said students are the best teachers of other students.

“Our goal is inclusion. Sometimes we lose our perspective on how a child should be developing. With the peers, we can see what our expectations should be,” Rebman said.

Rebman said special education and developmentally delayed students will rise up to the level of expectations teachers have for peers.

“Peers are the ones that make a different for kids,” she said.

Early intervention education focuses on developing social, emotional, speech and language skills.

“It’s going great,” Gonzalez said. “I see the program as creating positive experiences for kids, period.”