Karol Musher STARS Early Childhood Intervention Program
About the Program
The Karol Musher STARS Early Childhood Intervention Program uses a team approach to promote the growth and individual potential of preschoolers with disabilities and developmental delays. By providing educational programming uniquely tailored to the child, the STARS program individualizes instruction and offers support to families, so that children can realize their full potential.
We admit children of diverse abilities and assess the “fit” of our program for each child applying. Some of the diagnoses and disorders our program serves include: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Apraxia and/or Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Receptive - Expressive Language Disorder, Noncategorical Developmental Delay, Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, Hypotonia and Speech Delay.
The STARS program is committed to providing educational programming that aligns with recommended practices in early childhood special education and developmentally appropriate practice as outlined by the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), our professional organizations.
Each child receives one hour (2 x 30 minutes) of Speech and Language Therapy, one-half hour of music therapy, and one hour (2 x 30 minutes) of occupational therapy each week. Therapies are delivered in a blended model -- in therapy rooms, the OT gym and in the classroom. This approach helps children generalize their goals to a variety of settings, and it promotes the transdisciplinary implementation of goals by the child’s collaborative team. With this approach, teachers are empowered to use and implement speech and language interventions, occupational therapy strategies or music therapy techniques, over the course of the school day and week, so that the therapeutic interventions can be given frequently and in natural contexts.
Curriculum & Learning
Understanding that all learning needs to be functional and contextualized, the STARS classroom uses a play-based curriculum as a foundation for embedding the goals of each child’s unique education program into the daily routines and activities of the preschool day. Partnering with families, each child’s team develops and revises this plan according to the child’s growth and needs.
To support the child’s ongoing self-regulation, the STARS teams support children to expand their sensory-regulating and social-emotional learning. For children who benefit from discrete trial training, the classroom teachers are able to target skills and learning by integrating discrete trial work as one component of the fuller individual educational programs.
Individualized Education Programs are developed and revised annually to include current levels and goals in a variety of domains:
- Cognitive and Pre-academic
- Language and Communication
- Social-Emotional Development, including play skills and learning readiness skills
- Self-help skills, including toileting, brushing teeth, eating and hygiene
- Fine and Gross motor
The preschool program also includes gym, music, Shabbat and Jewish Holidays, and swimming during the summer months.
Finally, the inclusion of children in the Bertha Alyce preschool classrooms is developed and implemented through coordination and team planning. Each child’s schedule is designed to facilitate an expansion of the skills and goals identified in the Individualized Education Program.
Inclusion is an evidence-based practice and is implemented to promote the generalization of skills into everyday routines and natural contexts. Although it is a recommended practice, backed by research and promoted by our professional organizations, the Karol Musher STARS program is one of the only programs in Houston that embraces and utilizes inclusion in early childhood instructional programming. Unlike mainstreaming, where children are placed in classrooms with little or no support or modifications, inclusion emphasizes the support, access, and participation of students in the preschool classroom so that children are actively supported by STARS staff as they practice skills and develop abilities alongside peers.
Although the STARS program is year-round, 8:30 AM-2:45 PM, inclusion is not offered during the summer months when the JCC camps are in session.
Graduates of our program have gone on to kindergartens in both traditional and special education settings; we supply families transitioning to kindergarten with helpful information about their child so they can make knowledgeable choices about an ongoing placement.
Recognition & Awards
In addition to being visited annually by professionals and educators from Houston-area universities, private schools, and therapy clinics, the Karol Musher STARS program has received national attention and honors, including:
- JCC Association of North America Zahav Award (Gold Standard) – This biennial award is bestowed by the JCCA for ”Truly outstanding, visionary initiatives with maximum impact or potential for change.”
- U.S. Department of Education – Former Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services visited our program and hosted a roundtable with educators, parents, community leaders and therapists on the topic of inclusion in early childhood education.
Admissions & Tuition
The STARS admissions process includes information-gathering for both families and professionals, as detailed below:
- TOUR - Initial tour of STARS program is available by appointment only.
- OBSERVATION - A drop-off observational morning where the child visits the STARS program. Occasionally, an additional observational visit may be requested or additional referrals may be offered.
- ADMISSION DECISION - When offered admission to the program, please do an “in-person” registration with the following:
- Signed admissions form, completed fee sheet with $200 non-refundable registration fee + $400 deposit;
- A cancelled check and signed EFT form;
- An active Evelyn Rubenstein JCC membership. Please stop by the Membership Office or call 713.729.3200 for fill complete your membership application; and
- Copies of any developmental evaluations. Please note: ALL children enrolled in STARS are expected to be under the care of a developmental pediatrician.
- FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE – Scholarships are awarded based on availability. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and application instructions.
- FINAL ENROLLMENT - Your child is eligible to attend school only after all medical, emergency, and family history documents are complete and submitted to the administrative office.
Hours & Schedule
STARS is in session June–May and class is held daily, Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM-2:45 PM. Extended day child care and summer-only enrollments are not available.
We are currently enrolling students and have limited spaces available. If you would like more information or have any questions about Karol Musher STARS Early Childhood Intervention Program, please contact Faye Casell at email@example.com or 713.551.7200.
Learn more about our other special needs programs.