NEXT for AUTISM had the proud pleasure of celebrating the opening of the second NYC Autism Charter School in the Bronx this fall. NEXT for AUTISM had the proud pleasure of celebrating the opening of the second NYC Autism Charter School in the Bronx this fall.
Like the first autism charter school in Harlem, founded by NEXT for AUTISM in 2005, the Bronx School meets the needs of underserved communities whose children are severely to moderately affected by autism. Eighty three percent of students at the new school are eligible for the state free and reduced price lunch program.
“When we launched the first school in Harlem, our goal was to improve educational outcomes for children with autism in the public school system,” explained NEXT for AUTISM board president Laura Slatkin at the Bronx ribbon cutting ceremony.
“We are thrilled that the Harlem school’s success has paved the way for this second school in the South Bronx,” she said.
The NYC Autism Charter Schools are the first public schools of their kind in New York State. The Harlem school has trained hundreds of teachers and hosted educators from around the world who are eager to learn about its approach. The Bronx school follows key practices tested in Harlem, and shares its leadership team.
- Teachers are trained and overseen by a Clinical Supervisor and Head of School, who are board certified in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a proven approach to teaching students with ASD.
- Students receive highly individualized educational programs, with priority given to learning functional skills that will maximize his or her potential for long-term success and independence.
- The school focuses on teaching not just academics, but life skills such as communication, socialization, work readiness, self-care and daily living activities.
- It is deliberately located within the same building as other schools attended by typically developing students, in order to facilitate peer-to-peer mentoring and socialization — important needs for children with ASD.
“We will continue to use your research and support to spread this model through the boroughs,” said Dr. Betty D. Rosa, Chancellor of the New York Board of Regents, who spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony. She added: “I would like to see more of these schools across New York.”
That is a sentiment echoed by NEXT for AUTISM president Ilene Lainer, who, after working to launch the Harlem school, has continued to advise the leadership and currently serves on the school’s board. NEXT for AUTISM’s goal for all of its programs is for them to be disseminated widely across the country.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was a happy affair attended by members of the community. Schools director Julie Fisher also honored Bill and Ophelia Rudin, founders of the Harlem school and board members of NEXT for AUTISM. In his speech, Mr. Rudin was visibly moved by the impact of the work done by the school and lovingly credited his wife, Ophelia, who led the Harlem school’s creation.
A parent at the school summed it up best: “My son wakes up every morning and CANNOT WAIT to get to school. What else is there to say?”
Please read more about the NYC Autism Charter Schools in this recent article on Politico.com