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Christmas Cactus Gift From ESCNJ Board Member Delights CLL Students

CLL students, Greenhouse Committee members, and Principal Mary Beth Conley (L), in the school’s greenhouse with ESCNJ Board Vice President Bill Petscavage (center). Credits: Educational Services Commission Of New Jersey
CLL students presented ESCNJ Board Vice President Bill Petscavage with an herb plant in appreciation of his visit. Credits: Educational Services Commission Of New Jersey

PARLIN - A distinguished science teacher for over three decades, a valuable member of the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ) Board of Directors (including several years as vice president), and a long time member and current president of the Milltown Board of Education, Bill Petscavage has another credential to add to his impressive portfolio—a green thumb.

The most recent beneficiaries of Mr. Petscavage’s gift for growing plants were students at the Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL), which offers specialized classroom instruction based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis for students 3-21 with Autism and Multiple disabilities.

Mr. Petscavage recently visited CLL, a school within the ESCNJ, to meet with students and Greenhouse Committee members Shashi Gross, Anne Padmore and Sabine Shloyda.  In addition to answering questions, Mr. Petscavage contributed a Christmas Cactus plant, a tradition in many North American and European homes during the holidays, for students to replant in the greenhouse.

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The students were thrilled with Mr. Petscavage’s visit, and returned the favor by giving him an herb plant for his home garden.

Mr. Petscavage also surprised everyone with a $100 donation for the Greenhouse Committee, which will put the funds toward the purchase of a raised garden bed so wheelchair students can participate in gardening activities.

CLL Principal Mary Beth Conley said everyone enjoyed the visit, and sent Mr. Petscavage a note thanking him for his donation and sharing gardening knowledge.

“I look forward to more visits from Mr. Petscavage so he can see the continued growth of CLL’s Greenhouse program,” Mrs. Conley said.

The Center for Lifelong Learning is one of six ESCNJ schools in Middlesex County for student’s ages 3-21 with autism, multiple disabilities, and at-risk behaviors. The largest Educational Services Commission in the state, the ESCNJ also provides special education services to school districts statewide, coordinates transportation services for over 10,000 students across the state, and manages an 1,100 member Co-op Pricing System, the largest cooperative buying program in New Jersey.

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