February 12, 2024
At Park Shore Country Day School, fostering an environment that encourages creativity, problem-solving, and learning is at the core of our mission. Recently, two extraordinary freshmen from Half Hollow Hills High School West, Sarina Verma and Caitlyn Wang, took the initiative to enhance the sensory experience for our preschool students. These dedicated young individuals, also members of the National Junior Honor Society, have a passion for community service and a deep connection to special education, thanks to their mothers’ roles as an occupational therapist and a speech/language pathologist.
“Children learn when they play. It’s a proven fact. The Sensory Gym and Pathway that Caitlyn and Sarina have provided our students offer a calming space for their senses to be stimulated. The activities that Caitlyn and Sarina designed help build social skills, improve cognitive abilities, engage in academic skills, and foster them to better focus. They also help develop their small, large, and gross motor skills. All our students have been enthralled with the sensory gym and pathway they created. Not only are our children benefiting from the skills they are developing, but they are also becoming big champions for their friends who are becoming more confident and achieving success in strengthening their skills. I am so honored that Caitlyn and Sarina chose Park Shore to create and design this special space for our children. They put a lot of thought and creativity into designing activities for all children to engage in. It gives me, our teachers, and staff, great enjoyment as we watch our children navigate, learn and grow from their very special gift.” – Dianne Vitucci, Education Director
Sarina Verma: A Dynamic Force On and Off the Court
Sarina Verma is not only an active member of our community but also a shining star both in and out of school. Her involvement in the Peer Aides Educators and Treble Choir reflects her commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others. On the court, Sarina is an avid volleyball player, showcasing her dedication as a team member, both on and off the court. Her participation in the high school volleyball team and a travel club outside of school highlights her passion for sports and teamwork.
Caitlyn Wang: Vice President, Music Enthusiast, and Friend to All
Caitlyn Wang, the Vice President of the student government, is a multi-talented individual with a heart for inclusivity. As a member of the Friendship Club, she actively contributes to fostering friendships with students with disabilities. Her involvement in the Peer Aides Educators, Chamber Orchestra, and Tri-M Music Honor Society showcases her dedication to both service and the arts. Currently serving as the concertmaster of the HHH 9/10 grade orchestra, Caitlyn is a true leader in her community.
A Shared Vision: Creating a Sensory Pathway
Sarina and Caitlyn share a common passion for working with children and helping others, inspired by their mothers’ roles in special education. Under their guidance, the duo embarked on a journey to create something special for the community’s children. The result? A thoughtfully crafted sensory pathway at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library garnered an overwhelmingly positive response.
Expanding Their Impact to Park Shore
Encouraged by the success of their project at the library, Sarina and Caitlyn decided to extend the benefits of a sensory pathway to our very own Park Shore Country Day School. A sensory pathway is a carefully designed space that promotes mental, physical, and social well-being in children of all ages. The pathway at Park Shore aims to stimulate creativity, enhance problem-solving skills, and support a positive learning environment.
“The sensory path has been a great addition to the gym. The students absolutely love it, remain engaged, and explore many types of movement and textures. The sensory path has expanded students’ skills to wall push-ups, squats, crab walks, and bear crawls. Additionally, it has provided extensive practice for their jumping, hopping, balance, and proprioception. Letter, number, and spelling practice is an added bonus.
The sensory path has supplemented my Physical Education lessons in many ways. Students can toss beanbags to a letter and say words that begin with it, they can identify colors and shapes within the path for direction following practice, and they can reinforce their locomotor skills to meet grade-level outcomes.
The sensory wall is a beneficial addition to the gym’s Calm Down Corner. The Corner already included emotional awareness posters to help students identify their feelings, but now students can use their sense of touch to reset their bodies and minds. This contributes to making them more successful in class and helps them learn to self-regulate. I’m thrilled the sensory path is here and I’m excited to see how it helps our students continue to grow!” Miss Rebecca, Physical Education Teacher
Thank You To Sarina and Caitlyn!
Sarina Verma and Caitlyn Wang exemplify the spirit of service and community at the heart of Park Shore Country Day School. Through their dedication and ingenuity, they have brought the gift of a sensory pathway to our preschool students, enriching their educational journey. As we continue to nurture an environment that fosters holistic development, we celebrate the efforts of these remarkable freshmen, inspiring us all to make a positive impact on the lives of those around us.