By Nick Sestanovich
In one Hemlock Elementary School kindergarten classroom Thursday morning, it was business as usual. Students modeled letters of the alphabet using Play-Doh, learned about the months of the year and listened to stories.
However, what seemed like a typical kindergarten class on the surface was actually something brand new for Vacaville Unified School District: a mixture of general education students and students with individualized education plans (IEPs). Hemlock has the district’s first inclusive kindergarten program, intended to bring students of different abilities into one classroom as they begin their K-12 education.
The idea came from Hemlock Principal Jennifer Austin who attended an Every Student Succeeding training by the Association of California School Administrators in 2019. There, she attended a class on making classrooms fully inclusive.