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July 24, 20200

The Orokawa Foundation has been a long-time supporter of Tangram, our Maryland school for students with autism. They’ve provided funds to: build a wonderful playground, upgrade the school’s technology, and make a variety of enhancements over the past several years. Like other foundations, they provide funds to many non-profit organizations who apply for grants. But recently, The Orokawa Foundation reversed the process when they reached out to Tangram. Knowing it’s been very difficult on students, their families, and Tangram staff not to be together at school, they wanted to encourage everybody. The staff at the foundation wanted to surprise Tangram families with boxes filled with fun things for the students and items for the whole family, including gift cards to the local restaurants (Orokawa also wanted to support local businesses at the same time).

The Tangram staff were tasked to ask their families about needs, likes, preferences without letting on about the surprise to come. Items were purchased, boxes were filled with items specifically chosen for each family. On the outside of the boxes, Tangram staff wrote message to students. Then Tangram staff delivered the boxes! The impact was incredible, and the families were so appreciative.

Parent Jennifer Bishop shares how her son Nate was impacted, “Nate looked at his box this morning. He was so excited by it!!! He went for the ball first, and threw it all around the house before returning to look at the other stuff. Each time he took something out, he played with it for a long time, so he only got halfway through the box today before his speech therapy by zoom. He showed several things to Christina on zoom. He will open the rest tomorrow. He was absolutely delighted with everything he saw and it gave me so much joy to see! I was also grateful for the gift card and touched by all the messages written on the box.”



July 2, 2015

 

A recent graduate of the Arrow Center for Education in Maryland felt so transformed by his time at the school that he wanted to give a graduation speech that summed up his feelings.

“Whatever it was that brought you to Arrow is not who you are, or who you have to be,” he told the crowd of graduates, family and friends at the graduation ceremony last month.

The Arrow Center for Education, or ACE, is a private separate day school that provides specialized education to children who have demonstrated difficulty with school in mainstream settings. There are two campuses—one in Baltimore and the other in Bel Air.

The student, a foster child who had been through so much in his young life, struggled with behavioral and academic problems, but at ACE, he was given the individualized attention he needed to complete high school. When he was finally able move past the negative aspects that brought him to ACE, he developed into a “funny, clever, friendly young man,” according to Principal Sue Barnes.

That graduate is just one of the many success stories ACE has had since it opened in 1996, and the program continues to grow and develop. For the upcoming school year, ACE will offer an expanded reading program, aimed at students who are performing significantly below grade level.

Sue said high school students tend to use context clues to cover up the fact that they can’t read. For instance, even if they don’t know the some words in a sentence, they may be able to figure out its meaning by the surrounding words and sentences. This can be a good thing to a point, but becomes problematic if the students don’t understand the majority of the words, and misinterpret the text. At ACE, staff will work to identify students who need extra help, and those students will be enrolled in the Wilson Reading Program. The program will give identified students one-on-one lessons for 30 minutes a day using highly structured, evidence-based strategies.

Additionally, ACE is adding two new electives—foreign languages and graphic design.

The foreign languages elective will be especially beneficial toward students who wish to pursue a four-year college education after high school, while the graphic design elective will give students hands-on experience in a fully-equipped computer lab, and will help students develop skills for opportunities in Information Technology careers.

The Wilson Reading Program and new electives are just a few of the exciting ways ACE is making a difference in the lives of vulnerable young people. To learn more about ACE, visit



April 9, 2015

Dozens of students from schools all over Pennsylvania recently gathered at Arrow’s Stand Up Youth Leadership Conference in State College to combat harassment and bullying.

The conference is designed to give high school sophomores and juniors the leadership skills they need to make a difference in their schools and communities. Throughout the three-day event, they attended seminars, learned about their unique leadership styles, and developed plans to implement anti-harassment programs in their schools. The students came up with basic concepts before the conference started, then used the event to flesh them out. The projects varied widely, from awareness campaigns to mentoring programs, and beyond.

Andrea Czartoryski, who coordinated the conference, said one of her favorite student project concepts was an interactive art exhibit. The students planned to build large cages to represent different sorts of abuse, such as cyber bullying or domestic abuse, and have live actors inside. Keys to the cages would either be outside the cages to represent how peers must come together to support victims, or inside the cages to represent how victims must sometimes empower themselves to leave their abusers.

Students from another school that serves grades K – 12 recognized the large spread of ages could make the student body feel disjointed, and planned a mentoring program to proactively connect younger and older students, which would in turn create a culture in which bullying isn’t tolerated.

“We set the bar really high, but I think that gave them the motivation to dig deeper and think about more than planning a nice project, but really think about themselves in terms of leaders who could create actual change,” Andrea said.

Participants said they enjoyed the conference, especially meeting with students from other schools, bouncing ideas off one another, hearing from guest speakers and having time to themselves to delve into their projects.

“I don’t feel limited to one thing,” said Omar, a student who attended the conference. “I can be free and get my thoughts out.  It’s a lot of fun, but I’m also learning about myself and my classmates.”

The students won’t be on their own as they go back to their respective schools. Mentors from the conference will work with them to see their plans implemented over the remainder of this school year and the beginning of the next.

In November, the schools will turn in a final progress report to tell how their projects impacted their schools.

“We hope all of our teams got a good sense of where they are going with their projects so they can go back to their schools and get started,” Andrea said


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