News 2008

Roberts Wesleyan College Embraces Students with Disabilities

With one cut of a ribbon, a beautiful academic facility was introduced to the Roberts Wesleyan community and a major step forward was taken for students with disabilities throughout this region.

September 10, 2008 marked the Grand Opening for the Robert and Mary Hastings Center for Academics. The facility will house education and business majors and will be home base for a Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES Transition Class for students with disabilities ages 18-21.

This history making moment was made possible through strong community support and momentum that began with a Golisano Foundation initiative to create a steering committee to study the collaborative community transition process, in April 2006. That team came back with three major recommendations: improve communications between school districts, adult service providers and families; provide training for school district staff, families and adult services personnel; advocate for systemic changes. 

"This Roberts Wesleyan College Embraces Students with Disabilitiesis really a win-win for our future teachers and for students with disabilities, who are able to be with same-aged peers," said Ann Costello, Director for the Golisano Foundation. "In order to push those recommendations forward, the Golisano Foundation created the Institute for Transition, which is based at the University of Rochester. The Institute will be working with BOCES 2 on assessing and evaluating the program and developing best practices for college-based programs."

This new collaboration between Roberts Wesleyan and BOCES 2 gets to the heart of one of the systemic changes recommended, which was to, "Conduct outreach to area colleges to facilitate post-secondary opportunities for students with developmental disabilities."

Roberts Wesleyan College Embraces Students with DisabilitiesDr. John A. Martin, Roberts Wesleyan president, said the College is enthusiastic about this venture with BOCES 2. "I am pleased that the BOCES Transition class is on the Roberts Wesleyan College campus. Having that class located in the Hastings Center for Academics on the same floor as our education division is of great benefit to everyone's educational experience. We have enjoyed partnering with BOCES 2 and hope that the relationship will continue in the future," Dr. Martin said. 

Transition education aims to prepare students with disabilities to enter the workforce. Transition students are given extended time in the classroom to work toward academic goals and they are provided with hands on activities and real world experiences. 

Having the classroom prominently featured in the new Hastings Center will open the door to allow transition students to benefit from the many resources found on the college campus, and will allow Roberts students invaluable learning opportunities through observing instruction in the classroom. 

Joe Kelly, Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES director for Exceptional Children, said the new partnership at Roberts Wesleyan will provide a significant benefit to students. "This goes a long way in advancing the agenda for individuals with disabilities in our community," Kelly said. "These students will now have opportunities that will serve them well as they prepare for their future."

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