Assemblyman Joseph Lentol Visits Francis of Paola Early Learning Center

The weather outside was frightful, but the children’s cheer inside of Francis of Paola Early Learning Center was only delightful. On December 18th, 2018, the school held its annual Winter Carnival and was paid a visit by its local Assemblyman, Joseph R. Lentol. The assemblyman came to meet with the children and staff members as well as view the ways technology is being used in the school as a result of a grant Francis of Paola received from the New York State Assembly.

As part of the Winter Carnival, children created fake snow, played winter-themed games with one another and with their teachers, and learned about what winter weather entails and which holidays are celebrated in late December. Assemblyman Lentol joined in on the fun by joining the kids in their games and asking them what they were looking forward to during the holiday season. Teachers at the school showed the assemblyman various videos, photos, and lessons that have been uploaded to iPads that were provided to the school thanks to the Assembly’s grant.

Later, Assemblyman Lentol joined over two dozen children and teachers in a classroom where a SmartBoard has been set up. The SmartBoard allows for interactive and engaging lessons. The assemblyman sang a number of holiday songs with the children and was introduced to the kiddie-song sensation “Baby Shark,” which all of the students enthusiastically knew the words to.

It was a pleasure to attend Francis of Paola’s Winter Wonderland Celebration,” Assemblyman Lentol said. “I was thrilled to see the students interacting with the new technology.  It showed me and I am sure others would agree that technology exponentially helps a student’s learning ability so it’s important that we invest as much as we can in using technology in the classroom.

Flying High with Wings for Autism

Children and their families from AHRC New York City’s schools were cruising at Wings for Autism for the third year in a row. Organized by The Arc in partnership with Delta Airlines, the TSA, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the event is an airport rehearsal experience that allows families to go through all of the stressors and stimuli that passengers are confronted with at the airport, including long lines, loud or confusing noises of the airport terminal, public address announcements, security checks, and airplane boarding procedures.

For young people with autism, Wings for Autism offers an invaluable opportunity to become acclimated to a daunting but necessary part of life.

Now Boarding…

Like any other trip to the airport, the day began at the check in counter, where prospective passengers checked in and received special boarding passes. Families then proceeded to the gate, along the way undergoing security measures, emptying pockets, taking off their shoes, and passing through the full body scanner.

At the gate, Delta provided snacks and drinks while everyone waited for the plane to arrive. After the deplaning process was complete, the families, many clad in the royal blue Wings for Autism shirts, were allowed on the plane to sit for several minutes and explore what it is like to be on an airplane as a family.

All the while, airline and airport staff treated the event as if it was a typical day, making the usual boarding announcements and answering questions from children and parents alike.

 Students and Staff React

 “This is my second straight year coming,” said Salvatore Shurott, a student from AHRC Middle / High School. Salvador came to LaGuardia Airport with his mom, Vicky and his brother. Salvatore said that he was getting more used to coming to the airport and has big plans in mind. “Next year we’re hoping to take a flight to Las Vegas!

Jalen Brown was accompanied by his dad, Danny. “This is my first time!” Jalen said with a big smile. “I like to go to the airport, and I’m glad this plane isn’t taking off.”

This is one of my favorite days of the year,” said John Goodson, Staff Training Director and Lead Investigator for AHRC NYC’s Educational Services, speaking to the families in attendance. “Thanks to all of you – the volunteers, the parents, the students, the friends, the airline staff. The goal is to make the airport more comfortable and we come closer and closer to that every year.”

AHRC New York City would like to thank Brian Rohlf and Michele Delgado of the Port Authority, TSA’s Veda Simmons and Guy Lainis, Jorge Chuzan, from Delta Airlines, Kerry Mauger of The Arc, and all of the Delta staff at LaGuardia Airport, for helping to coordinate Wings for Autism and once again, making it a great success. We also thank all of the AHRC NYC staff who volunteered their time to assist the families.

Halloween Fun

Francis of Paola Early Learning Center halloweenThe theme of fall was abundant at Francis of Paola Early Learning Center during the month of October. A pumpkin patch was created in the garden located in the front of the building and the children enjoyed being able to pick out pumpkins to take home. Then the day before Halloween, a Fall Harvest was held in the school gym. Games and art activities were set up and run by parent volunteers.

In the afternoon, the children went trick-or-treating in the community to local stores who agreed to have treats available for the children. Thank you to the staff who organized the day and to the parent volunteers.