Early Childhood EducationPaterson Public Schools

Department of Early Childhood Education

  • Welcome

  • Preschool

  • Preschool

  • Curriculum

  • PIRT

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The Department of Early Childhood Education welcomes you to our preschool community!
The foundation of this Department lies with practices that are aligned to our District’s Strategic Plan: “Bright Futures”, the “NJ Teaching and Learning Standards for Preschool” and “The Creative Curriculum for Preschool”.  Our efforts are based on high expectations for the preschool population in preparation for academic success in future grades.

Our children benefit when families, schools, and communities invest in the preschool program.  The Department of Early Childhood Education works in collaboration with Community Preschool Providers as well as In-district Public Schools.  The Department of Early Childhood will work with all stakeholders to ensure that our preschool program meets the diverse needs of our children as well as provide a high quality preschool experience.

In order for children to have a meaningful experience in preschool, they must attend school every day. As we work together to provide the best preschool experience for our children please ensure that your child is on time, present and prepared for school every day.

                                                                   Nancy Aguado-Holtje  
          Director of Early Childhood Education

Core Beliefs

The Department of Early Childhood’s vision is to develop school readiness for all children and families in order to ensure that all have a high quality, comprehensive, culturally appropriate early childhood experience. It is our mission to become a leader in educating NJ urban preschool children by igniting a passion for learning through high quality preschool experiences. 

Bright Futures
Our Mission: To prepare each student to be successful in the institution of higher education of their choosing, and in their chosen profession.

Our Vision: To be the statewide leader in urban education.


Free Preschool for Paterson Children

Studies show that children who attend preschool have a long-lasting advantage in school. If you are a parent or guardian of a Paterson boy or girl who is 3 or 4 years old, they are entitled to a full day of preschool instruction at no charge. Registration should take place at the preschool center of your choice. Click on the following links for more information.



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Registration Forms




Registration Requirements




Home Language Survey





Have questions? Contact us!






Preschool Partners


The Early Childhood Education Collaborative


The Paterson Public Schools district is committed to providing the children in Paterson with the highest quality and most comprehensive early childhood educational experiences. The Early Childhood Collaborative partnership seeks to expand and improve educational opportunities and services for children and their families. The initiative is committed to creating a well-coordinated, citywide Early Childhood Education Program for young children and their families.




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Program Component Areas for Preschools

Curriculum and Program

The Creative Curriculum is a research-based comprehensive curriculum which was adopted by the Paterson Department of Early Childhood as the curriculum to guide our 3 and 4 year old students. Since 2003, we have provided all staff with direct training from Teaching Strategies consultants. We continually sustain and extend the concepts and contract with Teaching Strategies to continue professional development activities and site visitations to assure that implementation is ongoing and our classroom environment is dynamic.

Supporting English Language Learners

In order to create optimal language environments for English Language Learners, center directors are required to have bilingual staff available for dialogue and interaction with children. The Natural Approach is used. Activities are to reflect an environment whereby communication in both the native language and English flows freely.

In collaboration with the community-based centers, it is our goal to:

  • Provide a responsive environment that will incorporate and enhance the use of all languages represented by the students.
  • Use the Creative Curriculum and supplemental materials that will help students acquire English language skills.
  • Increase the awareness of cultural diversity.
  • Develop oral language skills in both the first and second language with a naturalistic approach to learning.
  • Provide opportunities for center teachers and staff to attend various staff development workshops relevant to Bilingual/ESL methodologies and strategies to strengthen their knowledge.
  • Develop a process which will ease the transition for early language learners and their families to elementary schools.
  • Afford opportunities for parents to attend workshops and informational meetings.

We are dedicated to providing resources and strategies that will ensure an atmosphere or classroom environment where three and four year old children can continue the development of their first language while enhancing and facilitating the acquisition of a second one.

Our goals include ensuring that:

  • The language and culture of families central to the curriculum and teaching.
  • Curriculum and materials reflect cultural diversity.
  • Students have opportunities to express themselves, develop motor skills and experience literature and communication in their own language, music, science and nature.
  • Master Teachers with Bilingual/Bicultural and ESL certification and experience serve as models in classrooms, provide resources and conduct workshops related to ELL teachings and methodologies.

Students identified with a dominant language other than English will be serviced by an English-speaking teacher with a bilingual paraprofessional. Preschool centers may opt to have an English –speaking teacher teach the whole class with a bilingual instructional assistant serving as a linguistic link to the home.

In Paterson, we are fortunate that many of our teachers and instructional assistants are bilingual due to the rich diversity of our community. This translates into staff that understands the languages, culture and tradition of the population served.

The center staff continues to assess the language skills of the 4 year old students who were identified by the Home Language Survey as having a language other than English. They administer the WAPT test to determine the level of English proficiency in late October and May. The results and findings are placed in the transition folder for the Kindergarten teachers.

The Bilingual/ESL Department maintains its support of the Department of Early Childhood Education; there is regular communication between the two departments we share information, date and resources to ensure appropriate services for students.

The Preschool Intervention and Referral Team

The Preschool Intervention and Referral Team is composed of learning, language, and behavior specialists who support classroom teachers in providing for the needs of each child.  They guide the implementation of the social-emotional curriculum and the preventative classroom systems which support a quality preschool environment, using the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children. The Pyramid Model is a framework of evidence-based practices developed by two national, federally-funded research and training centers:  The Center for the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL), and The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI).  Together with Master Teachers, the “PIRT Team”coaches teachers in implementing these preventative classrooms systems, which are the hallmark of all quality early childhood environments.

Intervention specialists are also able to provide a process that will aid the teacher and family in understanding and working with a child’s persistent learning or behavior challenges, despite the best efforts of the adults in the classroom.  They observe, coach, model strategies, provide feedback, and meet with teachers, families, and other specialists to analyze documentation and plan for next steps. 

In some cases, this process indicates the need for further assessment.  Here the PIRT specialist will facilitate the formal involvement of the Preschool Child Study Team.

Parent and Community Involvement


The Department of Early Childhood’s objective is to empower families by providing experiences and activities which support and enhance the parental role as the principal influence in their child’s education. Staffing for the program includes: family workers, school social workers, and a supervisor of parent and community involvement.

The Department of Early Childhood recognizes the importance of partnerships with families. There are family workers assigned to each family to provide support and meet their needs. The family worker assists parents in accessing local resources ranging from health care, medical insurance, social service agencies, legal services, housing, and mental health services.

The family workers are key in developing programs and activities that increase parental involvement. Interventions include but are not limited to providing educational workshops and opportunities for parents to volunteer or assume other participatory roles within the child care center.


From Home To School: Transitioning to Preschool



De La Casa A La Escuela: Transición Preescolar



Health Services

Our preschool centers employ registered nurses that provide a broad range of medical, dental, and nutritional services to preschool children. The goal is to promote preventive health services for children and their families as well as health education programs for families and staff. The registered nurses assist families in acquiring the necessary information and skills to facilitate their participation in an ongoing health care system that ensures that the child continues to receive comprehensive health care after leaving the program.

Registered nurses provide free health exams and screenings (vision, hearing, dental, height and weight measurement). All results are kept confidential. Screening results are available for parents to review. Screening reports are sent home if the child has to be referred for additional medical intervention.







Services for Children with Special Needs

The Department of Early Childhood Education is committed to the education of all children including preschoolers with special needs. When children exhibit persistent learning and/or behavior difficulties a Preschool Intervention and Referral Team (PIRT) provides strategies, classroom modifications, interventions, and training so that all children can succeed in their general education classrooms.

After PIRT has implemented a variety of interventions, or there are other circumstances which require a specialized program, students will be referred to the Child Study Team. Children who are found eligible will receive interventions and accommodations in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which guarantees children with disabilities the right to general education program adaptations, as specified in their Individualized Education Plans (IEP). The preschool program for children with special needs, focuses on identifying individual needs, linking instruction to the early childhood curriculum, providing appropriate supports, program modifications, and evaluating their progress.

There is a full range of programs available to meet the individual needs of preschoolers with disabilities. Programs range from fully inclusive classes with typical peers to self-contained classes taught by special education teachers. 

Please visit the Special Education Department for more information.


New Jersey Department of Education Website: http://www.state.nj.us/education
(Select Early Childhood Education on the pull down menu.)

The National Association for the Education of Young Children: www.naeyc.org/families

Preschool Education: www.preschooleducation.com

Preschool Printables: www.preschoolprintables.com

Early Childhood: www.earlychildhood.com

The Idea Box: www.theideabox.com

DLTK's Site: www.dltk-kids.com

Kinder Art: www.kinderart.com

Enchanted Learning: www.enchantedlearning.com

The Perpetual Preschool: www.perpetualpreschool.com

State of New Jersey Parent Link: www.njparentlink.nj.gov



Nancy Aguado-Holtje

Director of Early Childhood Education
FAX 973-321-0455

Lillian Lopez

Supervisor of Early Childhood Programs, Master Teachers

Donna Actable

Supervisor of Early Childhood Programs
FAX 973-321-2254

Stephanie Wright

Supervisor of Early Childhood Programs
FAX 973-321-2254

Juan Ferres

Preschool Enrollment

Debra Drobenak

Coordinator of Early Childhood Programs
FAX 973-321-2254

Cory Fronte

Data Management Specialist
FAX 973-321-0455

Gisela Cuello

Senior Specialist
FAX 973-321-2254

Nicholas Flattery

Special Funding Program Advisor
FAX 973-321-0455



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