Pathways Strategic Teaching Center, the newest educational facility in Coventry, opened its doors on Monday to a reception and tours for over 200 people at its state-of-the-art facility located off Hopkins Hill Road on Centre of New England Boulevard.
The $1.84 million, 12,000 square-foot building has been officially open since last fall. Founded in 1998, it is part of an outreach program in collaboration with the J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center to serve developmentally disabled individuals from infants to adults in 24 school districts and 53 communities throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.
Student Adam Bonner, 13, of Coventry, attended the reception with his family.
“Adam loves it,” said his mother, Susan Standish. “We couldn’t ask for a better school. They stay on top of everything. And he is with others who are all autistic. He is happy and loves coming to school.”
Mackenzie Milner, Supervising Behavior Analyst, gave a tour of the 12,000 square-foot facility. “We serve pre-school through ages 21 with autism or autism spectrum disorders” Milner said. “Our six classrooms can have up to 10 students each. In each classroom there is an iPad, a smart screen, televisions, computers, a bathroom and video cameras to observe and analyze what is happening in the classroom.”
Outdoor facilities on the nearly 3-acre site have playgrounds designed for older and younger children, a basketball court, a bench and a communal space.
“We have about 53 students right now and 65 staff for a better than 1-to-1 staff-to-student ratio,” said Dr. Andrea Chait, Director of Pathways Strategic Center since 2006. She is a leading authority on Autism Spectrum Disorders, and a nationally-recognized clinician, educator and researcher in Applied Behavior Analysis.
“We also have areas for occupational and physical therapy, adaptive physical education and lots of intensive education for treatment of autism and autism spectrum disorders.
We have a national expert consultant, Dr. Peter Gerhardt, working with us to establish our evidence-based vocational and life skills program,” continued Dr. Chait. “The Rhode Island Foundation has provided us with a grant to fund the development of our program.”
Awards were presented to some major supporters included Michael Evans, TW Evans Cordage, Cranston; James Irving, President and CEO, Greenwood Credit Union; Mary McAndrew, John E Fogarty Foundation, Providence and Paula Ewin.
Founding families who helped establish the program in 1998 were also recognized,
Michael D'Ambra was acknowledged for the construction of the parking lot, Tony Ramos for his granite work on the sign and members of the Trudeau Maintenance staff for their work on the building.
Special awards were presented to two Board of Director members, new CEO and President, Don Armstrong and Edwin Drew.
“We will have an increasing number of adults with autism and it is critical that we, nationally, improve upon the services provided to ease transition into the adult world and enable our students to become active participants in the workforce and community,” said Dr. Chait.
A fundraising program has also been started for Pathways to raise over $500,000 over three years to offset the $3 million invested for the building and for required renovations, modifications and capital equipment purchases.