LOCKPORT – Wyndham Lawn Home for Children will soon open a new school designed to teach disruptive 4- and 5-year-old children how to behave.
The first class at the Wayne A. Secord Therapeutic Preschool isn’t scheduled to begin until Dec. 16, and that date is tentative, Principal Patty McMahon said. Final approval is still being awaited from the state Education Department.
The school will be located at Wyndham Lawn, the 142-year-old former orphanage now operated by New Directions Youth and Family Services at Old Niagara Road and Lake Avenue in Lockport.
Its namesake, Secord, is an Ohio State University speech pathologist and Lockport native, whose parents were placed in Wyndham Lawn as children in the 1920s. His paternal grandmother was head cook at the facility at the time.
McMahon, who is the principal of the existing kindergarten through 12th-grade school for troubled children at Wyndham Lawn, said the preschool will start with one class of eight children. The eight will be supervised by one teacher and three aides.
McMahon said Niagara County has a demand for preschool services for children with behavioral problems that far exceeds the capacity of the available facilities.
“Over 70 little ones are being sent outside the county for services,” she said. “This is a new opportunity for the agency to serve the underserved.”
Once the Secord School opens, the selected children will go through 5½-hour days in a year-round, five-day-a-week program designed to improve their behavior before they are sent to regular schools.
“These kids act out because of their difficulty in communicating when they’re frustrated,” McMahon said. “I wouldn’t call them violent, but they do exhibit behaviors that are aggressive.”
Secord said, “Thanks to this new school, preschoolers throughout Niagara County that have already shown early warning signs will now receive the attention and care they need to remain on track in the development process.”
McMahon said, “In most cases, they’re not academically impaired. They’re kids with behavioral problems,” she added. “They’re struggling in day care settings.”
McMahon said the state will reimburse New Directions for the cost of the program, but the amount is still being determined. The preschool children will either be brought to the school by their parents or bused by their local school district, at the district’s expense, McMahon said.
The K-12 school at Wyndham has 102 students and a staff of 71, said McMahon, who has been at Wyndham Lawn for 10 years and served as school principal for six years.