ACE Offers Fulfilling Education Choices for Adult Students with Disabilities

July 8, 2022

Erin Jerome

Deciding what to do after high school graduation can be daunting for anyone, including students with developmental disabilities and their families.

It can be difficult to learn what services and programs are available for adults with disabilities, and what steps to take to help a loved one on a path to success.

Whether they are interested in continuing their education, finding a job, or both, Community Access Unlimited is able to assist in the transition to adult services through the Division of Developmental Disabilities and offers programs that help members reach their goals.

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ACE students Robbie Matos, Pedro Valentin, Curtis Moore and Anthony Bartell socializing during group break.

The Academy of Continuing Education in Roselle gives students flexibility and choice to take as many groups as they wish and in any combination. It is an alternative to a traditional day program for adults to learn new material and build their skills in small groups. ACE groups are in part made possible by funds from the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

“Oftentimes when they leave high school there’s a sense of ‘what now?’” said Robin Morris-Marano, director of educational services at CAU. “ACE is unique in that it provides students who have completed their high school education with an opportunity to continue learning and continue socializing.”

Morris-Marano explained that ACE is a great option for adults who have more independence and require less supervision than what would be suitable for a traditional day program. Group offerings include math, reading, science, history, visual art, digital art, and music and theater. The popular self-help course offers the opportunity for students to communicate with their peers about topics such as managing anxiety, goal setting, and making friends. 

“I like the math the best…it keeps my education going and keeps my learning skills up,” said Robbie Matos, who has attended ACE for four years. “The teachers here are nice and they’re funny too.”

Curtis Moore said ACE groups have been useful to his life, for example, when budgeting and shopping at the supermarket.

“I meet new friends,” Moore said. “I come because I like it and I have to learn more.”

Andre Foster said his ACE schedule also leaves room for his other activities, including his job at a bowling alley and a businesses he started selling planting kits. Lately, he is appreciating the self-help group.

“We can all get together and read articles,” Foster said. “I like that we’re able to read piece by piece and discuss anything that’s interesting and our views on it and bounce ideas off each other.”

Member Holly Goore said the program is a great combination of learning with a chance to socialize.

“I like taking math and reading groups and I like seeing people and making friends,” she said.

Contact Community Access Unlimited to learn more about schedules and registering at the Academy of Continuing Education.

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Marguerite Modero teaches Music and Theater group at ACE.