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March 10, 2014

VCU-ACE Accepts 6 Divisions for Cohort 2!

Spring is right around the corner, the season of growth and change. As the VCU-ACE Technical Assistance team celebrates the accomplishments and growth of the Cohort 1 divisions, we prepare for the accepted divisions of Cohort 2. 

We thank the 21 divisions who submitted thoughtful applications with a clear dedication to improving services for students with autism. Each application was carefully screened for completeness and scored using a qualitative rubric assessment. The divisions that were chosen received an average score of 94 out of 100; the quality of the applications submitted were exceptional. We want to thank everyone who applied to be in the cohort. We were impressed with the effort and thought evident in each application. Our only regret is that we could only choose six of the 21 deserving school divisions.

We are pleased to announce the 2014 -2017 Cohort 2 ACE Technical Assistance School Divisions:  

Alexandria City Public Schools 

Bedford County Public Schools

Chesapeake County Public Schools 

Franklin County Public Schools

Spotsylvania County Public Schools

Warren County Public Schools

We look forward to developing new relationships with these six divisions, while providing follow-along support to our current cohort one divisions. 


Last Call for VA ABA Consortium Fall 2014 Applications!

The Virginia Applied Behavior Analysis Consortium is currently accepting applications for our new fall 2014 cohort! The VA ABA Consortium is a university-based partnership designed to provide participants with high quality coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis, (ABA) and to prepare participants to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA) exam if they choose. The Consortium is comprised of four cooperating Universities including George Mason University, Lynchburg College, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Commonwealth University.  The VA ABA Consortium provides the six course sequence and offers supervised experience that is consistent with requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, (BACB) and allows participants to take the BACB® exam.  Participating in the VA ABA Consortium allows participants to interact with expert instructors from our four universities as well as to complete the program with other students across Virginia.  The VA ABA Consortium allows participants to obtain the supervision experience needed in order to apply skills being learned.  To learn more about the VA ABA Consortium and apply, please visit our website. Applications are due April 1!


VCU-ACE Welcomes New Administrative Coordinator!

Prior to accepting a position as Administrative Coordinator for VCU-ACE, Sarah worked at the School of Nursing at VCU Health Systems for 5 years. Sarah Mandoudis is a graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She received her a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008.  After graduation, she created her own graphic design business.  Also, Sarah worked as a paraprofessional and taught art in Stafford County, Virginia. In the coming months, Sarah will be exhibiting at local conferences and representing ACE at various functions. 

Smooth Sailing in Henrico County Public Schools!

Contributed by: Emily Helmboldt, LPC, VCU-ACE Technical Assistance

The Autism Services Improvement Teams (ASIT) and ACE staff are busy plotting the course for the next two to three years of follow-up work.  Although each division’s strategic plan looks different, there are critical common goals to every transition process. There is consideration of how to continue the momentum and efforts from the projects that have moved beyond pilot stages. Variables within the sustainability plans include: staff that can assume long-term responsibility, budget implications and how to continue replication.  The question arises, how do the divisions develop the infrastructure to assume autonomy with these improvements  to further the vision on a “systems-change” level?   

The Henrico County Autism Improvement Team is working on these changes.  This team is led by the Autism Program Coordinator, Laura Dean, and the two Autism Coordinators, Kristin Herman and Erin Jordan (affectionately known as “The Autism Trifecta”). This dynamic trio has engaged in a thorough review of progress achieved thus far from the ACE-Henrico County Public Schools partnership.    The present Autism Service Improvement Plan consists of five goals: increase in knowledge of ASD amongst administrators and other staff, social skills initiatives, redefinition of their specialized programs, improved transition outcomes, and an effort to increase capacity by supporting staff through the BCBA® certification process.   All goals have shown significant progress and many objectives have been officially completed.   

The next phase for Henrico County Public Schools and their students on the spectrum will be comprised of continuation of the pre-existing goals with varied alterations of each. In one example, there will be emphasis on supporting administrators through training on recognizing fidelity within classrooms using an Autism Rubric. This rubric is created by current and former HCPS Autism Coordinators.  Other examples of these goals involve analysis, revision and replication of pilot programs. Overall the “Phase Two” goals represent a  fine tuning of the work that has already started.   Henrico County Public Schools’ improvements in their systems-level supports are proving to be quite beneficial to their students with ASD and their families.