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Celebrating Inclusion – Q&A With Dr. Alessandri

As we continue our celebration of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), we gain more insight into the impact inclusion has on our community. This month gives us the opportunity to educate both students and parents with events hosted by various visionaries and leaders in the field. 

The Tikvah Center was founded in part due to the large efforts of the University of Miami – Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD). The center has been providing resources for 27 years to individuals diagnosed with Autism and a variety of related disabilities as well as providing tremendous support to their families. Just some examples of the resources they provide include support groups, employment preparedness programs, training for professionals, and so much more- all provided at no cost to families registered with them. Dr. Michael Alessandri, Executive Director of UM-NSU CARD, has been a professor at the University of Miami for 24 years and has extensive experience with individuals with Autism in varying capacities. Dr. Alessandri is an integral support member for The Tikvah Center’s success here at The Gordon School.

The Tikvah Center was founded by dedicated members of the community over ten years ago. It has flourished from 3 students to reaching its maximum capacity. The center is within The Gordon School making it the only Autism-specific program in a Jewish Day School giving the students many inclusion opportunities with their peers. UM-NSU CARD assisted with curriculum development and classroom set up, ensuring the students are in an environment best suited for meeting their social, emotional and academic needs, allowing them the potential to succeed to their highest ability.

On February 11, 2020, the community, including parents and providers, joined Stephanie Llanes, The Tikvah Center Director and Dr. Alessandri for a Q&A session about inclusion. If you missed this event the recording is available on our Facebook page! The questions asked allowed the community to gain insight on various means of inclusion and how to facilitate them in all settings. Dr. Alessandri spoke about one of the biggest inclusion challenges is making meaningful connections in schools. He used The Gordon School and The Tikvah Center as an example of making successful connections between students. The inclusion model at The Gordon School allows our students to gain an understanding and expand compassion for their peers of all abilities. We create opportunities for the students to make connections. An example is our intentional Mix It Up Lunch Mixer where students Kindergarten through 5th Grade are designated a seating arrangement for lunch that day and a teacher guides conversations between the students. All students at The Gordon School and The Tikvah Center feel a sense of belonging and community. Friendships across grades are fostered in school and developed in activities outside of school. Our students feel safe and welcomed every day making for a community filled with love and care. The inclusion for all students is a continued commitment that began upon the founding of The Tikvah Center. 

Want to learn more about our programs and see our beautiful campus? Join us at our Open House on March 18, 2020, at 9 am! RSVP Here!

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