Wednesday September 23rd, 2020 3:10PM

For Goodness Sake: Sisu Integrated Early Learning

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist

At Sisu Integrated Early Learning in Gainesville, students and staff are encouraged to show their sisu, a Finnish word for grit, every day.

At first glance, Sisu seems like a typical preschool, with colorful walls, tables piled with blocks and toys and two outdoor playgrounds.

What separates Sisu from other preschools is the integration of children age six weeks to six months with special needs and their typical peers. 

Sisu offers learning programs similar to any other preschool- reading, writing and playtime. But Sisu also offers in-house physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and applied behavioral analysis.

Staff at Sisu believe each student is special and that there should be no stigma surrounding those with special needs. That was part of the reason staff decided to change the non-profit name from Challenged Child and Friends around five years ago.

“We realized that every single person has grit and resilience and resourcefulness, so we wanted to capture more of those characteristics or traits versus a disability,” said Sisu Executive Director Jamie Reynolds. “We wanted to change the lens and we wanted to really highlight that every single person has sisu.” 

In order to help their students learn the new name, staff at Sisu implemented a program using positive reinforcement and a firefly mascot named Sue. Signs posted around the building list phrases such as “See Sue have looking eyes” and “See Sue have listening ears”.

Carla Baker, Director of Program Operations at Sisu, explained that the “See Sue” program encourages good behavior.

“[The program] focuses on positive interactions, because that’s more motivating for children,” said Baker.

Sisu plans to open their doors for the first day of school on August 17. Due to the amount of young children that they serve, staff have been taking many preventive steps to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Some of these steps include installing Plexiglas shields at the front desk and in between each mat where the students will nap. Staff will be required to wear masks at all times and students age three and older are encouraged to wear face coverings.

In addition, Sisu staff will also conduct screenings on each person that enters the building. The screening process includes taking each visitor’s, staff member’s and student’s temperature and asking questions before they enter the building.

Despite the added challenges, Baker said that teachers are prepared to make learning in a pandemic as fun and normal as possible.

“Our teachers are going to function it just like they would have before…they’re still going to be music and movement, there’s still going to be story time and opportunities for table activities,” said Baker. “A lot of our families are so excited to get their kids back in our program because of the isolation.”

More information about Sisu Integrated Early Learning is available on their website mysisu.org. Sisu serves 11 counties in North Georgia.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Videos
  • Associated Tags: gainesville, For Goodness Sake, Sisu Integrated Early Learning
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Hall County School Board okays bond sale to fund 10-year facility plan
In a called meeting Thursday morning, the Hall County Board of Education validated the sale of $157 million in general obligation bonds to fund a facilities plan for the district over the next 10 years.
6:48AM ( 38 minutes ago )
2 big Georgia fall fairs canceled because of COVID-19 fears
Two large fall fairs in Georgia have been canceled because of fears about COVID-19 transmission.
5:06AM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump, Biden trade barbs on coronavirus response
The debate over masks has moved to the presidential race
1:16AM ( 6 hours ago )
Local/State News
For Goodness Sake: Sisu Integrated Early Learning
At Sisu Integrated Early Learning in Gainesville, students and staff are encouraged to show their sisu, a Finnish word for grit, every day.
5:00PM ( 1 day ago )
Life with Lauren: Otter Splash! at North Georgia Wildlife Park offers an "otterly amazing" experience
At the North Georgia Wildlife Park in Cleveland, you can not only see a couple of Asian small-clawed otters, you can also swim with them!
3:00PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Small Business Spotlight- Southern Baked Pie Company
Amanda Wilbanks has fond childhood memories of helping her grandmother bake each Sunday after church.
5:00PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Perdue: Northeast Georgia Medical Center gets “five-star rating” for handling of COVID-19 pandemic
U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia had only praise for staff at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville following a tour of the hospital on Thursday.
5:30PM ( 13 hours ago )
Food distribution drive-thru set for Saturday in Gainesville
The Latinos Conservative Organization is taking part a free community food drive-thru Saturday morning.
1:44PM ( 1 day ago )
4 arrested, 3 at large following Monday home invasion in Gainesville
Three suspects involved in a home invasion in Gainesville Monday remain at large.
4:52PM ( 2 days ago )
Kubota taps local company for construction of latest project
Kubota Manufacturing of America Corporation has selected Carroll Daniel Construction to be the general contractor for the development of approximately 280 acres near the corporation’s current manufacturing facilities in Gainesville.
5:30PM ( 3 days ago )
Boys and Girls Clubs of Lanier opening early with extended hours
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Lanier will open three of their stand-alone clubs early and with extended hours to support families during virtual learning.
5:00AM ( 5 days ago )