Parma City School District touts first year success at ACES Center for Education of Children with Autism

PARMA, Ohio – After a successful first year, school officials in the city of Parma are excited about the future of the new ACES (Accept, Champion, Educate and Support) education center.

Located at Parma Secondary School, the innovative program is designed to better serve students in special education, especially children with autism.

“Just being able to start a program and bond with our families as our students progressed is something we’ve definitely achieved,” said Caitlin Sabo, director of the Center for Education at the ACES, which was previously the Pleasant Valley Elementary School. psychologist.

“Our families were absolutely amazing and the team of people I work with was also phenomenal. They really worked hard and built a program from the ground up that was ultimately successful for our students. “

The ACES Center of Schools in the City of Parma for the Education of Autistic Children is located in the north wing of Parma High School. (John Benson /

The 3,400 square foot facility, which was once two large classrooms, has been redeveloped into three classrooms, a sensory room, a conference room, a safe space, an office and ad hoc areas.

The ACES Center for Education has served K-5 students who have a primary medical and educational diagnosis of autism. The program, which is designed to provide a highly individualized and therapeutic program, during the pandemic, finds students primarily in person.

Seven Hills resident Tammy Pavlus said her 9-year-old son has made great strides as an ACES student. She credited the staff for her earnings.

“Even with the pandemic, its growth has been so significant in such a short time,” Pavlus said. “Everyone is very involved in his progress and shows that he is keen on his progress.

“Everyone is committed to seeing him succeed and is ready to do whatever it takes to help him grow. “

Sabo said what makes ACES so unique is its development approach to meeting students where they are at and helping them take the next step, whatever it is.

“Whether it’s a fourth year student starting to use the language or a student working on making eye contact, we really take this developmental approach to develop these foundational skills so that we can access more. early to the academic part and be more successful, ”Sabo said.

Confirmation of the success of the first year of ACES is the fact that not only are the nine children who completed the year returning for the 2021-2022 school year, but Sabo said they plan to add a handful. new students.

The ACES Center for Education started small with its two teachers serving students in Kindergarten to Grade 5. Sabo said that starting next year, the center will add an additional teacher and also expand to the college to include the sixth grade. In addition, it is planned to offer the seventh grade for the 2022-2023 school year.

Going forward, Sabo hopes to add new elements to ACES for the 2021-2022 school year. The plan includes community outings, as well as introductions to teenage peers and peer mentors related to career technology programs.

The impetus for ACES – which started as an idea in 2019 – has to do with the fact that schools in the city of Parma currently have more than two dozen designated students with disabilities who receive their education outside the district. This costs the district more than $ 2 million per year in tuition and transportation costs.

Parma City School Superintendent Charles Smialek previously told that the ACES Center for Education would help reduce this expense; However, he said his goal was not only to serve the students better, but also to make them and their families feel connected to the district.

“We are really excited about the growth of ACES in its first year,” said Smialek. “It’s a program that we imagined, tried to start too quickly and then took a step back to build it methodically.

“We want to offer as wide a continuum of services as possible so that we can serve all of our students right here in our schools with our teachers. Ms. Sabo’s dedicated leadership helps us accomplish this mission.

Read more news from the Parma Sun Post here.

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