Horace W. Porter

Porter Pals History

     The Porter Pals program was created by Mrs. Barbara Coviello, Special Education Teacher, and Mrs. Donna Cawley, Speech-Language Pathologist, in 1993, under the leadership of Superintendent Dean Toepfer and Director of Student Services Clint Montgomery.  The name "Porter Pals" was suggested by Mrs. Eva Mathieu, school psychologist ("Pals" was an acronym for "Play and Learn School").  The purpose of the program was to provide Columbia's preschoolers with Special Needs a high-quality preschool program that included non-disabled peers from the community.  Over the past 25 years, children with cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, Williams Syndrome, sensory processing disorders, speech and language delays, developmental delays, social-emotional needs, and many other challenges have grown and blossomed in a supportive environment, developing close bonds with their non-disabled classmates.  Each of these children has taught us something; each of these children has enriched the community in some way.  
     The program continues to serve a wide variety of preschoolers with and without disabilities in an inclusive setting with the support of many specialists and resources.  Children who enter Porter Pals as three-year-olds and continue on at Porter through eighth grade have spent 11 years in the Porter community!  Please see the Porter Pals Family Handbook for details about the program.