For close to 50 years, ACES has been serving special needs and regular education students from the 25 schools districts in ACES geographic region of south central Connecticut and throughout the State. Beginning with 40 special needs, ACES now embraces more than 2,300 regular and special education K–12 students in our magnet and special education schools and programs from 67 Connecticut communities. At the heart of ACES work is helping all students reach their full potential, especially students who may lack opportunities due to physical, developmental and intellectual challenges, socioeconomic level or geographic location. ACES services encompass: • Interdistrict Magnet and Special Education Schools - ACES provides rigorous academic curricula through 3 Interdistrict Magnet Schools with nearly 1,700 students, and 5 special education schools, with 700 students. • Professional Development and School Improvement Services, including specialized services such as Behavioral, Extension Therapy (occupational and physical therapies), and Technology Services; • Early Childhood Services served 416 individuals last year. The ACES Early Head Start program serves infants/toddlers and families from Clinton, Cromwell, Middletown, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook; • Regional Educational Programming: ACES programs include ACES Magnet School Parent Choice, Interdistrict Cooperative Programs, Vocational Programming, ACES–West Haven High School Collaborative and services at Yale-St. Raphael campus.
* ACES Open Choice aims to increase academic achievement while decreasing racial isolation. It is a free interdistrict program that enables urban students to attend public schools in nearby suburban towns and suburban students to attend public schools in New Haven. In 2016, 470 students from 14 school districts enrolled participated.
* ACES ACCESS supports the career development and transition for a multi-challenged adult population, by providing vocational training and support to adults with disabilities in Greater New Haven in the areas of individual and group supported employment, and volunteer services.
ACES operates 3 inter-district magnet schools which serve the needs of its 25 member school districts, students and families:
- ACES Educational Center for the Arts (ECA) – New Haven. 297 area students who are gifted in the visual, music, dance, theatre and literary arts work with professional artists in this half-day program.
- ACES Thomas Edison Middle School (TEMS) - Meriden. TEMS focuses on Math, Science, andTechnology through hands-on exploratory learning, and serves 706 middle school students. Meriden, Middletown and Regional District #13 are participating partners, with many other districts also sending students to TEMS.
Success in programs is measured using various tools and methodologies.
- For ACES, music students are tested annually with respect to aptitude and cumulative learning on music theory, and similar programmatic testing takes place within the other arts disciplines as well. Students are also evaluated on their participation in term projects, such as an art exhibit, play / musical, music and dance performances, and literary readings.
- For WIMS and TEMS, students take on science and math projects, for which they are coached and encouraged to refine over time. Math and science CMT scores are used to assess math and science proficiency, and determine instructional efficacy, as well.
Students have been greatly impacted by the innovative collaborations in which all ACES magnet schools participate. Examples of these often life-changing collaborative initiatives include:
TheACES ECA Dance Department has been collaborating with Adele Myers Dance Company through a series of five workshops, culminating in a dance performance. This program was made possible through a grant from the ACES Education Foundation.
TEMS and WIMS students have participated in programs which emphasize collaborative work with some of its technological and academic partners. These partnerships include: the Eli WhitneyMuseum, the Connecticut Science Center and the Peabody Museum. These programs have engaged students’ imagination, and helped them see possibilities with respect to post-secondary education and various career tracks. The collaborative nature of these initiatives help to invigorate learning by offering hands-on interactive programming.
ACES operates five special education schools, offering these programs to its 25 member school districts:
ACES Center forAutism Spectrum and Developmental Disorders(Northford) is an educational and clinical program serving 37 students, ages 11-21, from 21 Connecticut districts.
ACES Mill Road School(North Haven) serves children K-8thgrade with serious emotional /behavioral difficulties. The New Haven Urban Youth Program (also part of the School) offers New Haven students, both regular K-5thgrade, as well as special education programming.
ACES Whitney HS East & West (Hamden) serves special ed students between the ages of 14 and 21.
Progress is measured through standardized testing, and through attainment of goals, as identified on students’ individualized educational plans and supplemental methodologies. Reward systems are put in place as incentives for advancing in academic and behavioral standards.
The primary goal of ACES special education schools is to provide science-based instruction, training, and behavior intervention programs that promote functional independence. Focused, individualized programming provides the necessary supports that allow for the enhancement of students’abilities to develop in the areas of academic achievement, vocational/employment, life skills, communication and social skills. Students will become supportive members of their community, able to live meaningful and productive lives.
Program success is measured by the ability of students to achieve on standardized testing and by the ability to attain individualized goals. Rewards systems further systematize the ability to measure progress for these specialized student populations.
Program successes are numerous, and are reflected in the many testimonies offered by students, and their family members. Many students served by ACES behaviorally-oriented schools are able to return to their sending school districts, after successful interventions and supports have helped students sustain significant emotional and behavioral strides. Students who are served by ACES schools which have a focus on developmental aspects, have been able to learn and succeed vocationally, employed within the community before -- and after graduation.
ACES Professional Development and School Improvement (PDSI) Unit provides cost-effective, customized solutions target to the specific needs of our collaborative partners by addressing professional learning at every phase. PDSI works with partner districts, the State Dept. of Education, and other clients to anticipate and identify trends, target and access resources, design and implement initiatives and determine program effectiveness through comprehensive data analysis. Programs include Curricula Consortia, Alternate Route to Certification for Library Media Specialists, and ACES PreK-3rd grade symposium for district leaders.
ACES Early Childhood Services offers high-quality competency-based interdisciplinary consultation and training to early childhood practitioners and supports the design and implementation of aligned early childhood experiences across multiple systems. ACES interdisciplinary consultation team also provides child specific interventions for early childhood education setting for children, birth to age five. The ACES Middlesex County Early Head Start Partnership, now in its fifth year of federal funding, serves 56 infants/toddlers in six communities. Through regional collaboration, ACES Early Childhood staff is able to respond to district and community needs, share best practices, prepare a more qualified workforce, and maximize resources.
Regional Educational and Specialized Programming includes:
ACES Open Choice and ACES Magnet School Parent Choice – provides options for families to choose available openings in urban and suburban schools in the ACES region, as well as in ACES Thomas Edison Middle School, and ACES Wintergreen Magnet School.
ACES Interdistrict Cooperative Grant Programs increase student achievement and reduce racial, ethnic and economic isolation.
ACES – West Haven High School Collaborative provides educational services for students identified with intellectual disabilities.
ACES School Program at Yale New Haven Hospital (St. Raphael campus) provides academic services to students receiving inpatient psychiatric emergency services.
ACES ACCESS supports career development and transition for a multi-challenged adult population (ages 21 and above).
Other ACES services include ACES Behavior Services, Extension Therapy Services, Technology Services, and Transportation and Facilities Services.
Dr. Thomas Danehy has had an impressive career as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. The high school principal position was for a magnet high school on the campus of a community college, where he was on the College President’s Cabinet. Most recently, Dr. Danehy served as superintendent of the public schools in Winchester, Connecticut. He has also worked for a neighboring Regional Educational Service Center, led human resources, and overseen special education in many of his leadership roles.
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Educate a child and you change a community. For the child, a good education means better career opportunities and higher lifetime earnings. College graduates enjoy better health and are more inclined to volunteer and vote. For the community, supporting our youths’ educational goals results in a stronger society.
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