At the core of John Tracy Center mission's is the Dickinson C. Ross Auditory Verbal Preschool for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, ages 3 through 5 years old. The preschool is offered Monday through Friday, September through May.

In addition, we offer a combined parent-child school program on Fridays, where parent-centered education and participation are emphasized in a rich, English language environment.

In our Auditory Verbal Preschool, children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth are nurtured and activities are planned that encourage children to use their amplified residual hearing and develop speech and receptive and expressive language skills.

We apply a Reggio-Emilia approach to learning that is built around each individual child’s interests. Children are educated based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment.

JTC’s preschool classrooms are full of natural materials that serve each child’s interests and explorations. Teachers and parents observe and record reactions, and then use that information to build further educational opportunities based around each child’s innate curiosities and interests. For deaf children, the approach provides ample opportunities for verbal as well as non-verbal expression, since movement, drawing, sculpture, role play, and music are all incorporated into daily routines. JTC’s teachers skillfully weave the Reggio-Emilia approach into the principles of a listening and spoken language preschool environment, emphasizing repetition and familiar language while fostering creative expression. The results can be seen in a stroll down the Preschool’s hallways, where children’s explorations and spontaneous expressions are documented and creations are proudly on display and heard in the classrooms.

We also offer the students individualized speech and language sessions with one of our certified auditory-verbal therapists or spoken-language specialists.

Parents also participate or observe in the preschool one day per week and schedule weekly conferences with their child’s classroom teacher. Auditory-verbal techniques are used to demonstrate how to teach language effectively at home. Twice a month, parents attend a support group session. In this way, parents are given the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills they need to foster their child’s overall development, and to share with others the feelings, triumphs, and obstacles their family is experiencing.

2016 Preschool Graduation

About the Reggio-Emilia Inspired Approach to Learning

Developed in post-World War II Italy, the Reggio approach sees children as able to construct knowledge based on their experiences and interactions with others.

Loris Malaguzzi, the driving force in the development of the Reggio Emilia approach in post-World War II Italy, wrote a poem called “The Hundred Languages of Children” that expresses the core philosophy of the approach.

This philosophy is particularly appropriate in John Tracy Center classrooms, as we strive to help deaf and hard of hearing children engage the possibilities in the world around them and learn to communicate. In a Reggio Emilia classroom, teachers, parents, and children are partners in learning, and the curriculum is driven by children’s natural curiosity.


For preschool-age children (ages 3 to 5) who do not have a hearing loss, JTC’s Dickinson C. Ross Preschool (“Ross Preschool”) now offers a top-tier academic program to help accommodate the growing demand for a high quality, competitive preschool education in Downtown L.A.

What is an inclusion-based preschool?

In the case of Ross Preschool, it is an educational environment where learning is enhanced through interactions and play with children from diverse backgrounds and hearing abilities. Our inclusion-based program emphasizes the development of excellent listening, speaking and social skills among highly skilled and motivated children, both with and without hearing loss. Ross Preschool provides a rich social environment combined with customized learning so that each child is able to excel at his or her own pace and reach their own unique communication and academic potentials.

Ross Preschool Inclusion Program


Cultivating good communication skills and intellectual curiosity before the age of 5 is key to life-long educational, intellectual and leadership achievements. With our deep experience in helping children reach their full potential, JTC is pleased to now offer preschool education to hearing children.

Our language-rich program is Reggio Emilia-inspired and follows California standards for preschool. The path to learning is built around each individual child’s interests. Children are educated based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment. Innovative features include a movement program, parent education and support services, counseling, and access to developmental screenings.

Children will have integrated learning opportunities, engaging with children with hearing loss in our inclusionary program.

Preschool Teacher with Parents and Kids


With an average of twelve students per class and a 6:1 student-teacher ratio, children receive individual attention from our highly-qualified teachers, all of whom hold bachelors or master’s degrees in education.

Cathleen Mathes

M.Ed., LSLS Cert. AVT
Director, Education Services

Belle Garcia

Admin. Assistant, Education Services

Courtney Allen, M.Ed.


Lani Smith, M.Ed.