Enhanced accessibility now at Tiegerman Middle School


Tiegerman Middle School, nestled within the historic Coles School building , has recently undergone renovations to keep in line with the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, thanks to a substantial $125,000 grant secured by Assemblymember Charles Lavine.

The grant has catalyzed renovations aimed at enhancing the school’s facilities to better serve its students with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. The renovations focused on accessibility features, including the ramp and elevator, which are utilized daily by students, ensuring they can navigate the school environment with ease, as well as renovations to its bathrooms.

Kristin Lyons, the school’s principal, emphasized the importance of these upgrades. “These are all students with developmental disabilities” she said. “A majority of our population are students with speech and language impairments, autism, learning disabilities, other health impairments. Most of our students utilize the ramp on a daily basis, the elevator too.”

The middle school stands as a beacon of support and education for children with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. Tiegerman also works to increase public awareness of language disorders, because children who have them are often misdiagnosed and incorrectly placed in special-education classes and programs.

Lavine expressed pride in the tangible impact of the grant-funded renovations. “It gives me immense pride to see how the children at Tiegerman Middle School are benefitting from the existence of this facility and its dedicated staff,” Lavine said. “I am thankful that I was able to do my part to help.”

First constructed in 1928, the building was named for the Glen Cove family with deep ties to the earliest New England colonies and the history of Glen Cove, the Coles family. The Coles School was one of the city’s elementary schools until it closed in 1992, and the city bought the building in 2002. It was leased to the Solomon Schechter School until 2011. In limbo for more than six years, the building fell into disrepair.

The journey of the Tiegerman schools traces back to its founding in 1985 by Ellenmorris Tiegerman. It was initially named the School for Language and Communication Development.
Tiegerman arrived in Glen Cove 20 years ago with the vision of establishing two new Tiegerman campuses. With one school already established in Woodside, Queens, she acquired the south school building on Glen Cove Avenue to create the Tiegerman Preschool/Elementary School in 1999, but she was unable to purchase the old Coles School building on Cedar Swamp Road until she received a call from then Mayor Timothy Tenke in 2017 who asked if she was still interested.

When the Tiegerman School opened in 2019, it underwent extensive renovations to optimize its learning spaces. The old gymnasium was repurposed to create additional classrooms on both the first and second floors, addressing the need for more instructional space. Additionally, office wings were created to accommodate therapists, including speech and language therapists and counselors, providing vital support services to students. The initial renovation project also addressed essential infrastructure upgrades, including pulling up floors, repainting, and installing new safety systems such as fire alarms. Air conditioning systems and vending machines were also installed, ensuring a comfortable and convenient environment for students and staff alike. Lyons noted those renovations were funded by a municipal bond the school is currently paying off.

Under the leadership of Jeremy T. Tiegerman, the founder’s son, the institution has flourished, expanding its services to encompass a comprehensive range of educational and vocational programs. The district tailor’s its instruction to meet individual needs. Focusing on empowering students intellectually and emotionally, Tiegerman has achieved remarkable success, with a graduation rate of 70 to 80 percent among high school students.

“What we’ve come to learn with autism is it’s a developmental disorder disability, rather than it being just viewed as a deficiency,” Tiegerman, explained. “It’s on a spectrum of functioning, and everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and we’re really looking to find out and determine what one’s strengths, weaknesses are and then tailor that instruction to meet the individual’s needs.”