“I hold it and I remember. If it’s not in my hand, it stays in my pocketbook at all times as a reminder of what was and where we are today,” said Marianne. “Every child deserves the time and attention to be seen and heard. For children with developmental disabilities and delays, it’s about learning their language and perspective, then beginning to build skills to connect them to a bigger world.”
For her colleagues, the key is a reminder of what one person can accomplish.
“For more than 50 years, Marianne has worked to ensure that children with developmental disabilities are fully engaged with the world around them and prepared to meet their full potential,” said Stanfort Perry, executive director of AHRC Nassau. “Honoring her 50+ years of excellence at what was once known as the AHRC Children’s Training Center, and now Brookville Center for Children’s Services, is recognition for the important work she tirelessly continues day in and out.”
Marianne will be honored for her outstanding service at the upcoming Reach for the Stars event, held on March 21, 7 p.m., in The Mansion at Oyster Bay.
Marianne began working at the AHRC Training Center as a teacher’s aide in 1968, a year after the school opened. At that time, there was no right for children with disabilities to attend public school. Twenty years later, Marianne was placed in charge of the school.
Under Marianne’s leadership, BCCS has grown from six classrooms in Brookville supporting 100 children to more than 1,000 children with nearly 650 staff and schools in Brookville, Westbury, New Hyde Park and Woodbury, as well as the children’s residential program (CRP) in Lido Beach. BCCS’ current programs range from infant/toddler daycare to integrated preschool to special education from pre-k through the age of 21.
Her leadership is marked with many firsts. In 1989, Marianne worked with the New York State Department of Health to develop programs for preschool students, who were medically frail or had multiple disabilities. Two years later, she connected with the Long Island Regional Planning Group to update the preschool/early intervention program.
Marianne opened one of the first autism programs on Long island in 1993 that included speech, occupational and physical therapy; she is an advocate for the importance of physical education and music to assist with behavioral development and has integrated these disciplines into her programs.
Of her many honors, Marianne received the Long Island Association of Special Education Administrators 2008 Award of Distinction in recognition of outstanding leadership, service and commitment to advocacy and assistance on behalf of children with disabilities, their families and colleagues.
“To work in this field, you must have a passion for life. While the certifications and experience matter, it’s equally important that you are able to look a child in the eyes and broaden his or her understanding of what is possible,” said Marianne, who also has served as teacher and speech pathologist. “The BCCS team understands this call to action and stands beside an engaged network of families, ready to advocate on behalf of their children.”
Marianne worked within the shifting disability rights landscape, experiencing firsthand the outcomes from the passage of 1975’s Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act, the key amendments to the Iniduals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990s, to the present.
Parent advocacy has been an integral part of BCCS’ evolution, according to Marianne. One of her first professional memories is when she started as a teacher’s aide and saw parents traveling on a small bus to Albany to call out for New York State to better meet the needs of their children.
“Awareness and advocacy have created better outcomes, but by no means is the need for advocacy finished,” said Marianne. “Who we are is defined by what we do. Right now, we must continue to act and increase awareness of how to fully integrate people with developmental disabilities into a future more inclusive of people of all abilities. All the progress that has taken place is the result of the endless efforts of parents, for the love of their children – and we are just beginning.”
Brookville Center for Children’s Services
Brookville Center for Children’s Services (BCCS) is approved by the New York State Education Department and the Department of Health to provide educational and therapeutic services to children with developmental delays or disabilities. BCCS’ mission is to provide comprehensive services to children with an emphasis on assisting families in understanding their child’s strengths and areas of need. BCCS operates at five separate locations—Marcus Avenue at New Hyde Park, SUNY Old Westbury, Barbara C. Wilson, Post Avenue at Westbury Friends and Brookville’s AHRC campus. For more information, please visit www.brookvillecenter.org.
For more information, please contact Nicole Zerillo, assistant director of Community Resources, AHRC Nassau, at 516.626.1075, ext. 1134, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Brookville Center for Children’s Services