Columbia School District

Porter Pals Preschool

Porter Pals Preschool is a high-quality, inclusive preschool. Children with and without identified special needs are brought together in order to help them to learn and grow. 

Registration for Porter Pals Preschool Lottery 2024-2025 School Year 

The Early Childhood Team of Horace W. Porter School is pleased to announce that we will conduct Preschool Screenings for Columbia 3 year olds (turning 3 on/or before September 1, 2024) and any 4 year olds not previously screened (and not turning 5 by December 31, 2024).  

The Preschool Lottery is accepting registrations for the 2024-2025 School Year.  Please complete the Preschool Lottery Form  to register.  Registration will close on March 27, 2024 at 3:30p.m.  

At Porter Pals Preschool...

Questions about Porter Pals Preschool? Please call the Student Services office at 860-228-0585. 

Opening Circle~ Students greet each other, practice oral language and math skills, sing songs and listen to stories.

Choice Time/Centers~ Students develop self-direction, problem-solving skills, and sustained attention as they choose to play in centers such as: Art, Building, House, Fine-Motor, Math, Science, Sensory Table, Library, Computer, Dramatic Play.  Specific skill-building activities are intentionally built into each of these areas, and preschool staff actively engage with students as they explore these activities, using strategies to promote growth and learning for each student. 

Snack~ Social interactions and Speech/Language skills are promoted as students eat a healthy snack from home (there will be one snack time each day ).

Specials~ PE, Art, Library, and Music. Students will visit one special a day, accompanied by the classroom paraeducator.

Small Group Time~ The class is split into two small groups to work on specific skills.  These skills include fine-motor activities, Literacy, Math, Speech and Language lessons, and large motor activities.

Lunch~ students may buy hot lunch from the cafeteria or bring a lunch from home. There is no access to a refrigerator or microwave, please plan accordingly.

Recess~ Outdoor play, weather permitting

Closing Circle~ Students come together to bring closure to the day, with time for a story and a “Goodbye Song.”

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. 

Porter Pals Staff

DelMastro, Jessica

Preschool Teacher

Malinguaggio, Melissa

Preschool Teacher 

Carolyn Ritchie 

Preschool para educator 

 Lapsis, Amy

Speech & Language Teacher 

Murdock, Misty

Physical Therapist, EASTCONN 

Niemczyk, Erin

 Preschool Paraprofessional

Paulhus, Eileen

Preschool Paraprofessional