Being one of only seven schools in New Jersey to receive an “Innovations in Special Education Award” at a ceremony held at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village, was a special occasion for Bright Beginnings Learning Center (BBLC) students, faculty and parents.
“It was a great honor for BBLC’s Coding and Robotics Club,” said Case Manager Kate Johnson, one of the representatives attending the luncheon ceremony.
Operated by the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey, the BBLC offers specialized programs for students ages 3-21 with autism, and specialized programs for students 3-13 with multiple disabilities.
The Innovations in Special Education Awards ceremony is scheduled to coincide with Special Education Week in New Jersey. Awards are given to schools with programs that represent “a successful, creative effort that enables special needs students to achieve their potential,” according to NJSBA Executive Director Lawrence S. Feinsod, E.D., and ASAH Executive Director Gerard M. Thiers, whose organizations are co-sponsors of the event.
A selection committee considered program entries from 57 schools statewide before selecting the seven award recipients.
New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney was impressed as he toured the displays set up by the seven award recipients prior to the ceremony.
“It is a great achievement for students and their teachers,” Senator Sweeney said.
The Educational Services Commission of New Jersey Superintendent Mark J. Finkelstein said he was delighted with the “well deserved” recognition.
“The most important aspect of the Coding and Robotics Club is the impact it will ultimately have in helping higher functioning students gain exposure to coding in preparation for joining the work force upon graduation,” he said.
Mrs. Johnson, a founder of the BBLC Coding and Robotics Club, said the experience also provides students opportunities to work on their social skills, learn to collaborate with others on projects, and, now, having been selected as award winners, experience how it feels to be recognized for a major accomplishment.
In fact, while most schools had special education teachers and administrators walk to the front of the spacious ballroom to receive their award, the BBLC chose two students who have made major contributions to the Coding and Robotics Club, Galuco DaSilva and Jason Raymond, to the accept the award.
“Seeing Galuco and Jason walk in front of the crowd independently and accept the award was a shining moment for all of us,” said Mrs. Johnson.
It was also a thrill for Jason’s mother, Antonine Fileus, and Glauco’s parents, Genady and Glauco DaSilva, and his stepfather Charles Ross.
Bright Beginnings Learning Center Supervisor Sandy Giardino, and Teacher Naomi Glassman were also part of the BBLC contingent. Ms. Glassman worked with BBLC students in programming a NAO Robot so it could serve as a reader during “Read Across America” week recently.
The BBLC is one of six school operated by the ESCNJ for student’s ages 3-21 with autism, multiple disabilities, and at-risk behaviors, in addition to providing shared services to special education students statewide. The largest Educational Services Commission in New Jersey, the ESCNJ coordinates transportation services for nearly 14,000 students across the state, and manages a 1,100 member Co-op Pricing System, the largest cooperative buying program in New Jersey.