NORTHFIELD — The cameras were rolling Friday morning at the Northfield Community School, where students in Katie Hanlin’s preschool disabilities classroom were the stars.

A film crew from the television program "Classroom Close-up" worked to capture the exchanges between the students, teachers and aides.

According to Chris Curto of the crew that filmed the segment Feb. 9, the episode, titled “Katie’s Classroom,” will air on NJTV 7:30 a.m., 12:20 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, May 20 and June 17. 

Hanlin’s classroom was chosen after a New Jersey Education Association member visited the class and observed firsthand how the 3- and 4-year-olds with multiple disabilities have made great strides, according to school Superintendent Pete Bretones.

Hanlin said it is in no small part because of the exposure to specials teachers who come into the classroom to work hands-on with the students.

Principal Maureen Vaccaro said most preschool disabilities classrooms have the lead teacher tackling all subjects, and it works, but having the opportunity to bring each of the special-subject matter teachers into the classroom to work with the children is an amazing opportunity for the students.

The objective of the recording crew was to maintain as normal an environment as possible, and, using an overhead microphone, cameraman Ed Waters was able to captured the nuances of the young learners in action. 

Hanlin’s class was prepared to the “T,” as that was the letter of the day.

Art teacher Mary Sundra brought supplies in for the students to create “T” posters, dabbing cardboard paper towel rolls first into paint and then onto paper.

Tara Mousaw gathered students together on the rug for a speech lesson that practiced multiple skills and engaged each of them.

Next up was STEAM time, as Betsy Connell rolled an entire chemistry lesson into the classroom. While the students enjoyed the feel and the mixing of the ingredients, they were also incorporating science, technology, engineering, art and math, following multistep instructions, and watching a physical change take place as they made salt dough.

The project had 4-year-old Andrew Claveria's full attention as he kneaded and rolled the dough and made replicas of pennies and quarters in advance of Presidents Day.

Hanlin said after the crew left that the venture was a success.

“The day went great. We ran close to our usual Friday schedule so the children would be familiar with what's going on. There were some moments that we were constantly so busy with different lessons, and the children reacted so well and ready to learn," she said in an email.

"I was so proud of them and I truly think they enjoyed showing off our preschool and how smart they are.”

Hanlin said she feels very fortunate to have the specials, service teachers and classroom aides in the preschool.

“When we work together we really can reach so many areas growing children need to work on, such has fine motor skills, speech skills, behavioral skills, academics and so on. Collaborating with them, especially for the television show, was a positive experience for myself and the children."

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