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It's all in the family at Sorriso Kitchen! It's all in the family at Sorriso Kitchen! The parents of student LJ Bellas (far left) own this new eatery on Main Street in Chatham. They open it up every Monday exclusively to our students to learn new job skills. LJ's mom, Karen (center), and dad Jimmy (not pictured) celebrated an official opening this week, with ECLC and Chatham Borough officials Councilman Thaddeus Kobylarz and Mayor Bruce Harris.
ECLC of New Jersey Celebrates New Learning Opportunity for Students at Sorriso Kitchen!

On Jan. 30, ECLC of New Jersey was excited to celebrate the official opening of Sorriso Kitchen, a new restaurant on Main Street in Chatham with more than just food on the menu. Sorriso is owned by Karen and Jimmy Bellas, whose son LJ attends the ECLC Chatham school. They were inspired by LJ to use their new enterprise to help ECLC students with special needs.

Every Monday, they close Sorriso and open it up exclusively for ECLC students to spend a class there, learning job skills. They are also selling mugs, totes and cards with the Sorriso logo, printed by ECLC students in SKIL (Seeking Knowledge for Independent Living) class.

"This is such a wonderful opportunity for our students and our school to come here and use this beautiful space as a classroom where they can learn all the skills necessary for working in a food establishment," said Principal Jason Killian. "It's a tremendous sacrifice for Sorriso to close every Monday and open up to our students. We are truly grateful." Read more.

A happy Ho-Ho-Kus graduate celebrates with a favorite teacher! A happy Ho-Ho-Kus graduate celebrates with a favorite teacher!
ECLC Graduates 36 Special Needs Students

ECLC of New Jersey graduated 36 students with special needs from the Chatham and Ho-Ho-Kus schools last week.

The young adults received high school diplomas conferred by their hometown districts. During the Chatham school commencement ceremony, each graduate was given an opportunity to speak and deliver his or her "reflections," a school tradition for many years. Read more.

ECLC Alumni parent Colleen Smith (far right) nominated Jan Arthur for the award because of the positive influence she had on her daughter Sammi, during her years playing on sports teams at the Chatham school. ECLC Alumni parent Colleen Smith (far right) nominated Jan Arthur for the award because of the positive influence she had on her daughter Sammi, during her years playing on sports teams at the Chatham school.
Chatham School Physical Education Teacher Recognized as Teacher of the Year!

Jan Arthur has been a force for fitness at the Chatham school for nearly 30 years! Through her no-nonsense attitude, combined with affection, Arthur has helped students far surpass expectations whether in gym class or on the playing field. For her incredible track record of success in working with students who have special needs, Arthur was named the Teacher of the Year by the Arc/Morris. Read more.

Arthur originally started as a coach and physical education teacher in the public schools. Over the years, she had opportunities to return to a public school teaching position, but turned them all down. Instead, she chose to "stay with her heart" at ECLC.

The Sensory Room is dimly lit to enhance the atmosphere of calm and quiet. The Sensory Room is dimly lit to enhance the atmosphere of calm and quiet.
Chatham School Opens New Sensory Room

ECLC of New Jersey's Chatham school celebrated Autism Awareness Month with the grand opening of a new Sensory Room to provide therapy for the growing number of students with autism.

The school has found tremendous success with providing sensory breaks, "sensory diets" and sensory input to help students regulate. The Sensory room creates a new, permanent space for this purpose. It creates an atmosphere of calm and includes equipment that students can utilize with staff to smooth out their emotional states. The room is a "Snoezelen Room" and delivers stimuli to various senses, using dim, lighting effects, color, gentle pressure, sounds, music, scents and vibration. Elected officials from Chatham borough and nearby communities helped with the ribbon cutting! Read more

Eagle Scout candidate Stuart Clark is at the Chatham school with ECLC students, Troop 17 Scoutmaster Daniel Cannon, and his proud mother, Vera Clark. Eagle Scout candidate Stuart Clark is at the Chatham school with ECLC students, Troop 17 Scoutmaster Daniel Cannon, and his proud mother, Vera Clark.


Big Eagle Scout Project Benefits Chatham School

Attaining the rank of Eagle Scout is the highest achievement in Boy Scouts. It involves years of working on and earning merit badges, assuming leadership positions, many nights of overnight camping and steadily moving up the ranks. In fact, only about 6 percent of boys who stay in Scouts reach this pinnacle. The accomplishment is widely recognized in the United States and around the world.

Recently, a Boy Scout from Troop 17 in Millburn decided to work on his Eagle Scout project to benefit the ECLC school in Chatham. The Scout, Stuart Clark, and his friends bought or built over-sized versions of chess, checkers, Jenga, tic-tac-toe, Yahtzee and more for ECLC. Then, they didn't just donate the games. Clark came to ECLC and played with students during gym class! His project brought big smiles to our students!

Coopermans Steer the Way to Record-Breaking Gala for ECLC of New Jersey
from left, Renee and Bruce Litinger, Toby Cooperman and husband Leon More than 360 guests celebrated our Fall Gala honorees, retired staff member Toby Cooperman, with husband Leon, and ECLC Executive Director, with wife Renee.

With generous financier Leon Cooperman at the helm, ECLC of New Jersey cruised to raising an unprecedented $700,000 at a gala on Sept. 14, honoring his wife, Toby Cooperman, a retired ECLC staff member. In addition, longtime ECLC supporter, Chatham Asset Management, announced an incredibly generous 10-year, $750,000 pledge.

"We are overwhelmed with the generosity of Toby and Leon, and everyone who supported our gala. This will go such a long way toward supporting our students and adult clients, as we continue to expand our services," said ECLC Executive Director, Bruce Litinger. "Toby and Leon are ECLC's guardian angels."

Toby Cooperman worked at ECLC's school in Chatham for students with special needs for 25 years as a Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDTC). She was a forceful and unforgettable presence, leaving a lasting legacy. She served as a mentor, tireless advocate for vulnerable students and was a quiet, behind-the-scenes financial supporter when the school or students needed help. "Toby was a mover and a shaker," said Cindy Collins, the school's LDTC. "To this day, when a situation comes up with a student, I often ask myself, 'What would Toby do?'" Read more.

Autism Awareness Month 2017

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.

See photos on Facebook.

Community Personnel Services Receives $40,000 Walmart Grant

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.

P.R.I.D.E. Program Gets New Technology Thanks to Investors Bank

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.

Ho-Ho-Kus Staffers Win 2016 Regional Awards

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.

Ho-Ho-Kus School's 25th Anniversary

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."

View a video of the event!

America's Special Kidz Cover Story on ECLC

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This cover story
beautifully captures what makes ECLC special.

Autism Awareness Month

Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris (far left) proclaimed April as Autism Awareness Month and recognized staff, students and alumni of ECLC's Chatham school: ECLC Executive Director Bruce Litinger; Chatham School Assistant Principal Jason Killian; student Ethan Kaufman and his father, Matthew; alumni Nellie Brogan; ECLC Business Manager Jean Earle, and Nellie's mother, Stacey Keenan.
Waldwick Mayor Thomas Giordano
Waldwick Mayor Thomas Giordano (with Borough Councilwoman Deb Dellavechia) hands over a proclamation to Ho-Ho-Kus Principal Vicki Lindorff at a May 15, 2015, ribbon-cutting ceremony that celebrated the school's 25th anniversary.