Students Seek In-School Jobs

ECLC of New Jersey’s students with special needs are asking for the public’s help to sharpen their work skills! They are looking for small jobs to complete in the classroom, while taking precautions to stay healthy and safe during the pandemic.

Nick Sordillo
Nick Sordillo and his classmates stuffed the Chatham Borough calendar into plastic bags for delivery to residents’ homes.

Usually Upper School students, ages 18–21, ventured out into the nearby community for “job sampling,” at area businesses and other organizations. The school is located behind the municipal building and in pre-COVID days, would take walking trips into downtown and ride the bus for field trips and work opportunities. Today, everything is on hold.

However, this school year, they cannot go on any community outings because of the risk of COVID-19. Many of these students are especially vulnerable, during this time.

The nonprofit school is seeking envelope stuffing, collating or other small jobs that can be completed in-house. Recently, they handled envelope stuffing for Chatham Borough and also stuffed the annual calendar into plastic bags for delivery to residents’ homes. They have customized bags for Sunnywoods Florist and completed a packaging job for the VA Hospital in Basking Ridge.

The school is also looking for business owners to “Zoom” into the classroom as a guest speakers. The work-experience program is called SKIL, and the acronym says it all: “Seeking Knowledge for Independent Living.”

SKIL is critical to the success of ECLC’s students, preparing them for life as adults and working in jobs, as they are able. If you have a work opportunity or want to participate as a guest speaker, please contact Principal Jason Killian by sending an e-mail to or calling 973-601-5410.

ECLC of New Jersey Update on COVID-19 Outbreak

ECLC of New Jersey is closely monitoring the evolving situation with the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure the health and safety of all students, clients and staff.

The Chatham and Ho-Ho-Kus campuses are closed effective on Monday, March 16, and both shall remain closed until further notice. Re-opening will depend in part upon the resumption of transportation services from the sending districts. This morning, both schools smoothly transitioned to remote learning, using SmartBoards, Zoom video conferencing and other tools.

As of this morning, the PRIDE Program closed for the week. If an extended closure is required, parents and guardians will be notified.

The Support Coordination services provided by Community Personnel Services (CPS) are continuing through alternate arrangements approved by the state.

In addition, the following measures were taken prior to closure:

There was increased cleaning and sanitizing protocols throughout all facilities. All community-based outings were terminated. Staff made sure that students and clients followed health safety protocols.

Meanwhile, the annual school fund-raising dinners have been postponed. The Ho-Ho-Kus school event will take place on June 23 at the Estate at Florentine Gardens. The Chatham school will hold its dinner on June 8 at the Birchwood Manor.

These measures were taken in response to the outbreak and not because of any exposure. For more information about ECLC’s response to COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 page.

ECLC Of New Jersey’s Chatham Cub Scouts Compete in Pinewood Derby

Winners of the Pinewood Derby with Chatham Troop 28 Leader Tom Sugrue and Patriots Path Council Unit Service Executive Marc Maratea.

It was a heated competition for students with special needs at ECLC of New Jersey’s school in Chatham on March 4!

The 12 students who are party of ECLC’s Cub Scout Troop 100 raced small wooden cars in a traditional Pinewood Derby.

They built and decorated their cars during Scout meetings at the school with Troop leaders Principal Jason Killian and teacher Wade Dendy.

At the Derby, the Scouts were assisted by Tom Sugrue from Chatham’s Troop 28 and Marc Maratea of the Patriots Path Council, who organized the race heats and awarded trophies to the top three fastest cars.

“It can be difficult for our students to access recreational opportunities in their home communities, so sponsoring a Troop at school gives them a chance to join Cub Scouts,” said Principal Jason Killian. “This is part of the difference that ECLC is making in the lives of our students and their families.”

ECLC Opens Winter Pop-Up Shop

Chatham students have opened a Winter Pop-Up Shop in downtown Chatham to sell products they make in school.

ECLC of New Jersey’s students with special needs are hoping their new Pop-Up Shop becomes a hot destination in downtown Chatham this winter.

The Pop-Up Shop features products ECLC students make in school as part of the vocational program. The shop is located at the Yo Lotta Luv store, 258 Main St., in the heart of downtown.

The new shop offers students an extension of their in-school work activities. At the Pop-Up, they are learning how to greet and interact with customers, sell and handle transactions!

Their products range from coasters, mugs, water bottles, matted photographs taken around Chatham, cocktail napkins and more. They are also taking orders for customized items, such as T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, wine and drawstring bags, napkins and hand towels. In addition, students can manage mailings, collate newsletters and do more small jobs for local organizations.

It’s all part of the school’s vocational program called SKIL (Seeking Knowledge for Independent Living). The goal is to prepare students for life after graduation, so they can lead productive lives as adults. ECLC provides students with transition services and offers an adult day/evening program called P.R.I.D.E. and job placement and support through its affiliate, Community Personnel Services.

In their final year at ECLC’s school, students go out into the community to “sample” jobs. They work at everything from child care and retail to food service, maintenance and office administrative support.

“So far the Pop-Up Shop is a big success! We sold out of our holiday items, and it’s been steady business for the students,” said ECLC Chatham School Principal Jason Killian. “We are appreciative to Jeff Burnett, the owner of Yo Lotta Luv, for giving us the space, rent free!”

The Pop-Up Shop is open for business on Mondays and Thursdays, from Noon to 2 p.m. Residents are encouraged to stop by and support ECLC’s students with special needs.

Eagle Scout Project Helps Students with Special Needs Learn Social Skills

Boy Scout Jackson Koury built a LEGO Therapy cart for ECLC’s Chatham school as his Eagle Scout project.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are known for being helpful, and for many years, they have been generous and supportive to ECLC of New Jersey!

Scouts have volunteered at annual walkathons and other events and completed projects at ECLC’s school in Chatham and Ho-Ho-Kus for students with special needs, as part of working toward Gold Awards and Eagle Scout.

Jackson Koury of Troop 121 in Chatham is the latest Scout to lend a helping hand to ECLC of New Jersey. Koury built a mobile LEGO® Therapy station as his Eagle Scout project, which will help students with special needs improve their communication, creativity, collaboration and social skills.

LEGO Therapy is a lot more than just playtime. It was developed by a clinical neuro-psychologist and used in classrooms, in Occupational Therapy and in social skills groups at ECLC’s Chatham school, which enrolls about 170 students with special needs, ages 5–21. Students select a kit and take on one of three roles: supplier, builder or engineer.

After choosing a kit, the supplier finds the LEGO pieces. The builder puts it together, and the engineer makes sure everything is correct. The small groups and clearly defined roles, help students with special needs work as a team, collaborate and talk. It has been a big hit with students and teachers.

“The LEGO cart is always moving from room to room. It is constantly in use. Our students really love it, and we can see how it helps develop their social skills,” said Assistant Principal Allison Clemens. “We are very thankful to Jackson for his work!”

Koury decided to complete his Eagle Scout project at ECLC after joining the Play Unified Club at Chatham High School. In Play Unified, several hundred students from both schools enjoy social, academic and athletic activities in the evening at the ECLC school.

He has been a Scout for 10 years, starting as a Cub Scout at age 6. “My favorite thing about scouting is the personal development and growth that comes from camping and hiking,” said Koury, who is a sophomore at Chatham High School.

While student enjoy the LEGO bricks, Koury is busy finalizing his Eagle requirements in anticipation of a Court of Honor sometime next year.

LEGO is a trademark of the LEGO Group.