ECLC celebrated Autism Awareness Month with the grand opening of a new Sensory Room at our Ho-Ho-Kus school. The room was dedicated in memory of Principal Vicki Lindorff's mother, Louise McDonald, who spent her life in service to children as a public school teacher and, in her spare time, as a volunteer at ECLC.
The Sensory Room is beautifully equipped to help students relax, calm down and regulate their emotions, especially when struggling with dysregulation. It was designed by the school's specialists, who are experts in what techniques and tools work for each student.
The room includes a tactile wall, memory foam bean bags, a Somatron tunnel, large therapy rocking chair, weighted stuffed animals and fidgets, a Helios effects projector, weighted blankets, relaxation music and more.
The new room was added in response to the changing student population at the school. More students are facing the challenges of autism, which can lead to sensory over-load. And, there are students who need a chance for more activity. Sensory rooms have been shown to increase focus and alertness, improve social skills and enhance productivity during the school day.
Our first walkathon cruised past all expectations! The event drew 526 walkers, who together raised more than $32,000 for ECLC of New Jersey's schools and adult services. Proceeds from the walkathon will directly benefit nearly 800 students and adult clients served by ECLC. "We are overwhelmed by the support of the ECLC family and community members who came out for the walk," said ECLC Foundation Director Heather Alonge. "Our first ECLC walkathon grew beyond what we imagined. We are so grateful!" Read more.
Thanks to the Walmart Foundation, CPS has just gotten a big boost. The Foundation has given CPS a $40,000 grant to continue helping adults with disabilities maintain work within their communities; develop new skills; and live as independently as possible. The Walmart Foundation's State Giving Program supports charities and organizations that create opportunities so that people in their community can live healthier and happier. Read more.
Thanks to a recent grant from the Investors Bank Foundation, adults in the Morris County P.R.I.D.E. Center are getting more opportunities to go online. Through a $5,000 grant, ECLC purchased new desktop computers and laptops for clients to use.
"We are extremely grateful to the Investors Bank Foundation for this grant. Our adult clients go online for research and education as well as for leisure activities," said P.R.I.D.E. Director, Dot Libman. "As our program grows, we want to make sure all of our clients have equal access to computers and aren't held back on their road to independence." Read more.
"I am now ready to go into the real world and start working."
"ECLC has been a great place for me to make friends."
"Graduating from this school is a little scary but I feel prepared for the future and I know I will accomplish my goals."
These quotes from speeches given by our Chatham school graduates capture what makes ECLC a special place for our students.
At both our schools in Chatham and Ho-Ho-Kus, our students forge lasting friendships, develop new skills and gain confidence to face the inevitable challenges ahead.
Our grads know where they're going next thanks to the guidance of the knowledgeable, dedicated staff at our affiliate, Community Personnel Services (CPS).
Leading up to graduation, our students are helped to smoothly transition into the next phase of their lives, whether it's a job, volunteering, the P.R.I.D.E. program, higher education or another program. Wherever they go, it's a carefully mapped out decision that fits their individual needs and interests.
One of our Chatham grads is off to George Mason University's LIFE Program for students with special needs. Read more.
We are so proud of Elaina Cassera and Heidi Ritzel for winning awards from ASAH, the umbrella organization for special-needs schools and agencies!
Cassera was named the "Paraprofessional of the Year," and Ritzel was recognized as the "Educator of the Year" within ASAH's Region I. They will vie for statewide recognition at ASAH's annual conference next fall. Read more.
Jason Killian has come full circle in his career. His first experience in a special-education classroom was during his senior year at Chatham High School back in I993 when he completed an independent study at our Chatham school.
More than two decades later, Killian has re-entered the ECLC school building, but this time as the assistant principal, replacing longtime administrator Susan Tillis, who has retired.
Killian brings invaluable experience to the post as a special-education teacher and administrator in various public school districts. He also has an insider's perspective into the value of an ECLC education. His younger twin brothers are ECLC graduates! Read more.
On May 15, 2015, with the quick snip of a silver ribbon, our Ho-Ho-Kus school commemorated a big milestone: 25 years of educating students with special needs!
During the ceremony, Principal Vicki Lindorff accepted a stack of official government proclamations and embossed certificates and enjoyed words of congratulations from elected officials, business people, ECLC trustees and other guests. Waldwick Mayor Thomas Giordano (representing the borough with Councilwoman Deb Dellavechia) said many kind words.
On behalf of the local elected officials, aides to the Office of Bergen County Executive James Tedesco III and a staff member from state Sen. Kevin O'Toole, and state Assemblymen Scott T. Rumana and David Russo delivered brief speeches as well.
However, the school's true meaning and impact on children was perhaps best expressed by a parent, Christine Coleman, who spoke about the difference of sending her child to a school that is solely dedicated to children with special needs, like her 9-year-old son.
"After my first visit to ECLC, I knew this was the place for my son," said Coleman, whose son has been enrolled for two years. "They give students opportunities that other schools do not. Everyone here, the teachers, the specialists, the therapists, the paraprofessionals, they get it when it comes to working with children with special needs."
America's Special Kidz Cover Story on ECLC