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Our Mission Statement:

Rochester Early Childhood Special Education maximizes learning for young children with unique needs while supporting and educating their families.

The ECSE program is a special services preschool for children living in the Rochester Community School district. Children between the ages of three to five may be eligible for this program, based upon developmental need. The ECSE program services children who have difficulty in the following areas:

  • Understanding and following directions
  • Expressing thoughts and ideas
  • Saying words or sentences
  • Developing gross and fine motor skills
  • Acquiring social skills/Interacting with others
  • Learning new concepts for school readiness

The ECSE classroom provides a language-enriched environment with a play-based curriculum. This allows children to learn the basic skills for school readiness at their own pace through hands-on experiences in a wide variety of activities. Our ECSE classrooms are located in elementary school buildings throughout the Rochester Community School district. Each classroom is taught by a special education early childhood endorsed teacher, with para-educator support, and an ancillary team consisting of a speech and language pathologist, school social worker, school psychologist, occupational therapist, and a physical therapist. The classes are either am or pm sessions, and are held for 3 hours per day, 4 days per week. Busing is provided. 

The program focuses on supporting parents, and involving them in their child’s educational programming.  A parent of an ECSE student will be involved in planning for and attending a student’s IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) meeting. Parent input is highly valued, and helps us to understand how your child is functioning at home. Parents are also provided with regular communication from the teacher and staff.  This communication may include: a daily note, email, home visit and parent–teacher conferences.  Parent involvement is also encouraged in the form of parent-child activity days that are scheduled on Fridays throughout the year.

There is NO COST for this program if your child qualifies. Children must be evaluated by the special education department to determine need.

Please contact the Special Education Department at (248) 726-3195 for information regarding an evaluation. 


Melissa Buffa, ECSE Teacher at North Hill                     
Donna Giles, ECSE Blended Teacher at North Hill
Sarah Lowe, ECSE Teacher at North Hill
Erin Knight, ECSE Teacher at University Hills
Kate Merian, ECSE Blended Teacher at University Hills

Gina Ruffini, ECSE Teacher at Brewster
Katie Tash, ECSE Teacher at Brewster
Laura Washer, ECSE Blended Teacher at Hampton
Paula Suddon, ECSE Program Consultant