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Early Childhood

Teacher and student sitting at a table signing.


We are so glad you are interested in the Early Childhood Education at the Ohio School for the Deaf and Ohio State School for the Blind! Take a look through our website and let us know any questions you have! 

Dr. Lou Maynus, Superintendent 

Gretchen Douglas, Program Coordinator 


Here at the Alice Cogswell Center (ACC) and Early Learning Center (ELC), we follow a child centered approach.   At the ELC, we serve children ages 3-5 with hearing loss, and students with visual impairments. Each child has a unique personality and their own strengths. We respect and encourage each child on their path to learn and grow socially, emotionally, physically and educationally.  We believe children grow and develop best when given hands on activities where they can explore and try new things with support and encouragement along the way. We provide the opportunity for children to try a variety of learning experiences throughout the day: fine and gross motor, art, language and literacy, math, and other large and small group activities where we practice valuable communication skills. In all of these areas, we strive to build strong values in our children, self-esteem and respect and caring for others. 

At the Alice Cogswell Center (ACC), we serve students with hearing loss ages six weeks through three years old. We do so in a language rich environment focusing on American Sign Language. Our staff is experienced with using and supporting students in their use of hearing aids and cochlear implants. Daily lesson plans and units are developed in conjunction with the site coordinator, a teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing. These lessons focus on language development and fostering increasing independence and confidence.  

Want to see more? Request a Tour 


Preschool Coordinator and Lead Teacher

Gretchen Douglas 


Teachers – VI

Kim Brinkman 

Teacher – Deaf Education

Ashley Zimmerman
Dennis Williams 


Erin Carberry
Julian Henderson
Anna Wallace
Julia Borysiak 



Jessica Coleman
Keeley Weston
Megan Manning 

Program Values 

Individualized Instruction: 

The Early Learning Center provides instruction for a variety of types of learners. We strive to provide an individualized classroom experience that is supportive of each child’s developmental and communication needs. We do this by providing educational time in the classroom by communication modality. We have four classrooms: one that uses American Sign Language, a classroom for Visually Impaired students, a class that provides instruction in spoken English with sign support, and a classroom for students with deafness and also other additional disabilities.  We have designed these supports in response to the needs of our students and in order to provide extra time, hands on materials or other individualized support services for them to achieve their highest potential. 

This individualized instruction occurs during the morning of the school day and includes discussion about the calendar regarding recent and upcoming experiences, question of the day, literacy, math, and language development provided directly from teachers and paraprofessionals who can provide direct communication in the students’ communication modality in order to help all students succeed and progress using Ohio’s Early Learning Content Standards.  We have storytime in either ASL or spoken English based on communication modality in the afternoon. We have family members or other staff members come visit from time to time to share stories as well! 

Fieldtrips and Hands-On Learning Experiences: 

 At the center, we have project and topic-based explorations that change or expand every few weeks. These topics are based on the students’ interests and also include things that are in our surroundings or occur during the calendar year.  We choose and explore these topics and corresponding materials in order to help children develop their concept of the world around them. Children with sensory impairments often miss out on incidental learning experiences.  When people are chatting about a recent event, watching the news on TV or listening to the radio, deaf and hard of hearing students are not able to hear the repeated exposure to these key vocabulary words.  Visually impaired students do not always have access to materials around them if they cannot see or touch touch them.  Therefore, we feel this is a key component of our educational programming for our students to have exposure to concepts and materials that may not be entirely new, however they may not have the words to describe or have had the opportunity to explore them in the past.  We do this by providing various projects for exploration with support, visual cues, tactile and auditory cues, and other hands on activities and also fieldtrips for strong vocabulary development. This is done in ASL for deaf and hard of hearing students and with auditory and tactile support for students with visual impairment (VI). The teachers select important vocabulary related to the given theme, find a variety of books, visual supports and activities that will provide a multisensory approach to teaching so that all students have access to materials. 

We have weekly fieldtrips as part of our curriculum concept development at the ELC. These have included studies of airports and a trip to the OSU airport and also to Columbus Airport to visit the former Principal of OSD for a tour all in ASL! We have visited multiple Metroparks around the area to explore nature around us including birds, ponds, and trees. We have worked to form multiple community partnerships including with the Columbus Library and Buckeye Gymnastics. Getting out into the community provides a highly motivating experience and makes our vocabulary learning immediately applicable. By taking many pictures, and videos, we are able to review our visits and discuss them before and after they occur further developing linguistic abilities. Visiting the community helps to develop world view and perspective beyond our walls further than we could in our classroom alone. 

Social Connections: 

There is nothing more motivating than wanting to connect with one’s peers and no better way to do that than through play! The Early Learning Center has been given the honor of piloting a Positive Behavior Intervention Support program! The State Support Team 11 chose the ELC to be a part of a program to learn about and develop a PBIS program to fit our center. Teachers and paraprofessionals received training, and we have been given a grant to select and purchase support materials.  Sensory disabilities, such as hearing and vision loss, are a low incidence handicap; therefore, children often do not have peers who use American Sign Language or who have a visual impairment with whom they can interact.  Play is an essential component to developing a child’s language, executive functioning and later leads to their independence. This program has shown us the benefit of focusing on positive ways to encourage children and how, with visual supports, reminders and consistently reinforcing their good behavior, we can lead by example. We show how we care for each other and our students, and we communicate our needs effectively.  Such a program has previously not been used for preschool; however, it is widely used with elementary, middle and high school programs. We are now in the beginning stages of implementation are already seeing a huge difference! Students are happy, incident reports have decreased, cooperative play and problem solving are increasing and students are learning the routines faster than past school years. 

During the afternoon, students participate in a large group centers based learning time which includes sensory materials, art activities, science exploration, and dramatic play. These areas change based on the learning targets and the theme of instruction for the center as a whole. Teachers and paraprofessionals model learning alongside students and are actively engaged in these explorations in order to provide reinforcement and support for communication with peers and use of mediation and vocabulary support as needed. 

Location and Hours 

The Alice Cogswell Center and Early Learning Center are located on the campus for the Ohio School for the Deaf. It is near the back of the campus. Please check in at the guards booth off of the Morse Road main entrance for more detailed directions on campus. 

Both the ACC & the ELC are open from 7:45-3:15 daily. Drop off is between 7:45-8:15 with our school day starting at 8:15 and pickup is between 3-3:15 daily. We serve deaf and hard of hearing students from 6 weeks-3 years old at ACC and students 3 years through prekindergarten at the ELC. 

The Early Learning Center                                               Alice Cogswell Center
Ohio School for the Deaf                                                 Ohio School for the Deaf 
500 Morse Rd.                                                                  500 Morse Rd. 
Columbus, OH 43214                                                       Columbus, OH 43214