NLG News


  • Bedford and Billerica's Nashoba Learning Group Aides in Autism Education

    Jan 25, 2017

    View the full article here: http://bedford.wickedlocal.com/news/20170116/bedford-and-billericas-nashoba-learning-group-aides-in-autism-education

    With an increase in autism diagnosis, the state is seeing a rising need for special education teachers. Conversely, the retention rate for special education teachers working for private organizations is low. According to statistics provided from the Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Schools, 38 percent of teachers at such institutions quit their jobs each year.

    Nashoba Learning Group in Bedford has managed however, to overcome many of the obstacles facing other Chapter 766-approved schools. The retention rate for staff at Nashoba Learning Group is 85 percent, much higher than the state-wide average of 62 percent.

    Chapter 766-approved schools are authorized under state law to provide education to publicly funded students with severe and complex disabilities. Although the Nashoba Learning Group is a private organization, almost all of their students are publicly funded pupils who attend because their public school district cannot provide reasonable accommodations. There are 86 such schools in the state.

    Liz Martineau, who serves as the president of the school and a Concord native founded Nashoba Learning Group in 2002 in Westford before moving to Bedford in 2008. The school specializes in students with intensive forms of Autism, drawing over 100 students from more than 50 cities and towns at their locations in Bedford and Billerica.

    A common problem with staffing is that many teachers can earn more money working in the public schools. The average salary for a teacher at a 766-approved school is $50,189 while the state-wide average at a public school is $74,703.

    "We work to pay our staff competitive salary, but a staff member with the right credentials could earn more in the public schools," Martineau said.

    The challenge at a school like the Nashoba Learning Group however, extends beyond just the financial needs. Working with children afflicted with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) typically involves operating in stressful situations and the burnout rate is very high.

    "Getting staff in the door that have the heart and the skills for this job is a challenge. Martineau said. "It takes a certain type of personality to love this and embrace this. A very significant percentage (of our students) are completely non-verbal and all of our students have some degree of language impairment. Many of them are sent to us because they develop inappropriate behavior and the district just doesn't have the resources to help them overcome those challenges."

    Tina Taylor, a clinical director at Nashoba Learning Group, worked in the public school system before coming to the school. Taylor spoke about the isolation she felt while working with special needs students in public schools; where often times an aide is paired with a student and works with them one-on-one for the entire school day.

    "I just found the support was lacking in the public setting," Taylor said. "I felt like I was often times just left to my own devices. It was an inclusive setting by I didn't feel like there was a lot of community or planning around my student."

    Nashoba Learning Group utilizes a rotations system to avoid one teacher working with one student for too long. According to Martineau the rotations ensure that teachers have a supporting group of professionals and therefore keeps teachers from being burned out too quickly.

    "A lot of what we try to do to minimize our staff turnover is to provide a very supportive system for our staff. It is a tough job but we have a lot of support around here to do right by those kids to provide them with the right kind of environment," Martineau said. "A lot of the staff we get from the public schools, they don't have the resources. If a kid is having a terrible problem, you don't have someone to call and say 'Take a look at this kid, tell me what you think'. Here we have all kinds of expertise to assist in those situations."

    The rotation system is based around four teachers who interchangeably swap between students. In addition to keeping teachers from feeling isolated with only one student, the system allows the professionals to exchange thoughts on the individual learner.

    "Here you are not the only person that knows that child, you have a team of around seven people plus other specialists that all know that child inside and if you don't know something there is always somebody you can ask and somebody you can rely on," Taylor said.

    Another strategy the school uses to keep retention rates high is an intensive training program that ensures new staff are fully aware of their job responsibilities.

    "We have a six-week trial phase once people are hired so they can come in and see if this for them," Education Administrator Maureen Lacerte said. "We can also observe them and we can discuss that maybe this is not the right forte for them."

    One area in which Nashoba Learning Group is looking to enhance is the amount of male instructors they have. The field of special needs education is heavily female and Lacerte estimated that their current staff is 95 percent female.

    "A lot of families would like to have more male staff," Lacerte said. "Male staff members are almost like golden eggs...;we are working on a lot of things like toilet training and other issues that are gender sensitive so they do like having male staff, but we don't just get that many male applicants."

    The school recently opened up a second facility in Billerica that also includes adult education and they plan on continuing to expand.

    "We are always hiring," Martineau said. "We have expanded a lot recently and even with a high retention rate, we still lose about 20-30 staff members a year."

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  • Welcome Annual Fund Co-Chairs

    Apr 04, 2016
    both pics

    Dear NLG Parent/Guardians,

    My name is Marta Wolf, mother of Natasha, a student at NLG. Natasha is our enlightenment in so many ways and she is also our challenge as parents. She is 17 years old and she has autism. Our commitment and biggest challenge is to help her succeed as best she can.

    In 2012, our family decided to relocate from Virginia in search of a good vocational program for our daughter. I visited most of the private schools in MA. After touring NLG, I knew I found what I was looking for.

    NLG has surpassed all my expectations by providing much more than a good vocational program.  I'm so impressed with the level of services, quality, compassion and individuality. Natasha has attended similar (private 1:1 ABA certified) schools her whole life and never were we offered consultations and parent trainings at home. Daily outings in the community, swimming, dentist visits at school, and transportation are all part of a tailored individualized plan to address her specific needs. We never dreamed of having such services be part of Natasha’s school schedule. We work as a team and I was given a voice within. I no longer have to struggle to be heard!

    These are all the reasons I have joined the Annual Fund Committee as a Co-Chair. NLG constantly improves the daily life of my daughter and family, I want to give back to the school that is giving its all. I look forward to getting to know each one of you and join together to support NLG.

    My name is Carol Rakers, mother of Samantha, a student at NLG for the past 6 ½ years.  Since she came to NLG she has grown into a young lady who my husband and I couldn’t be prouder of.  She has come so far in her behaviors, communication, expressing herself, as well as entering adolescence with much less anxiety than we anticipated. 

    Thanks to her wonderful team at NLG who put everything into Samantha’s daily program to make her day to day routine much more bearable.  It is such a great feeling to have a team ready and willing to listen whenever needed.  All I have to do is mention a particular issue or behavior I would like to work on or change with Samantha.  The team is willing and ready to work on it very quickly. 

    We were so lucky to be able to send Samantha to NLG and with this is why I am glad to become a Co-Chairperson for the Annual Fund for Nashoba Learning Group.

    As you may know, funding from our cities and towns, Department of Developmental Services and MassHealth do not fully cover the cost of educating our children and serving them as adults. Some of the very special ingredients that make Nashoba so successful and that constitute key elements of our children’s education are funded through philanthropy. For instance, the professional development and training that teachers receive is funded through grants and donations. Also, the specialized staff who are so critical to our kids’ success in learning to manage their behavior so they can participate in learning, the community, work, and life activities, are also funded through philanthropy. Specialist resources for our students using augmentative communication also are paid for outside of public funding.

    Throughout the year NLG calls upon families and friends to support the school in various ways.  Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the school.  We are writing to ask you to donate to NLG’s Annual Fund, if you have not already done so.  We look forward to reaching out to you with our Phone-A-Thon on March 22nd.  Last year’s Phone-A-Thon was a great way to kick off the Annual Fund Spring Ask. We hope to involve even more parents and reach our goal of 100% participation.

    Thank you for all that you do for NLG.  If you have any questions, comments or want more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at LCRakers@verizon.net or martawolf44@icloud.com.

    Sincerely,
    Carol, Marta & Brendan
    Carol Rakers, Marta Wolf, & Brendan Cheever
    Annual Fund Co-Chairperson

    Go comment!
  • NLG's Second Site

    Jul 01, 2015

    We are so excited to report that our School expansion site at 170 Lexington Road is complete and we have received DESE approval to open!  The School site occupies the first floor of the building and our Adult Program occupies the second floor.  As those of you whose child is moving already know, step one of the expansion will be to move 15 students and their teaching teams to the new School space.  We will do this effective July 13th!  Then, we will be able to gradually add new students in both of our School sites over the next three years, eventually adding 40 new students to our current census of 90.   

    This accomplishment marks an important milestone in NLG’s strategic plan.  It will enable us to serve more of the individuals with autism who desperately need the services we provide!  This will also provide staff development opportunities at both sites, essential to retaining our excellent staff.  Our model of serving students with highly trained staff and talented Clinical Directors whose caseloads allow them to intensively supervise each student is unique.  It allows our students to make vital developmental progress.  Our parent community and the school districts who send students here have spread the word about NLG’s high quality instruction by loving teachers, and many more families are anxious to have the same opportunity for their own children.  Answering this call is NLG’s mission:  we are excited to welcome new families to NLG just as we welcomed you. 

    As we grow, we will primarily add younger students at 10 Oak and students aged 10 and older at 170 Lex.  In order to facilitate smooth drop off and pick up for districts sending to both sites, the 170 Lexington School Site will operate from 8:45 to 2:45.  Hours for the Adult Program have been shifted to 9:15 to 3:15.  Hours at 10 Oak Park will remain the same, 9:00 to 3:00.  Days of operation for both School sites will be the same.  To facilitate referring to each site, we will call them NLG-10 Oak and NLG- 170 Lex

    The two School sites will operate as one School and both sites will benefit from the mechanisms we have put in place over the last several years to enhance our quality across our School and Adult Programs, anticipating future growth.  These include our Behavior Council, Peer Mentoring Teams for Clinical Directors, our Life and Vocational skills Inventory tool, and our Redesigned Training and Mentoring Programs.  These systems enable us to more effectively share and review clinical practices and individualized curricula and train and mentor staff.  They help us ensure that we are consistent and that each individual has access to our best thinking on his or her programming.  We have also enhanced our administrative systems, including Schedule Builder, and our data tracking and management systems to enable smooth operation of two sites.  Finally, we have added capacity in Finance, IT, administration, and Development over the last year to enable our growth.    

    This new School site is the culmination of many years of planning and will mark the 5th time in NLG’s 12 years that we have opened a Program site.  NLG’s Clinical model, emphasizing professional development of staff and Clinical Directors with small caseloads of 8-10 students, is designed to facilitate growth while continuing to deliver high quality service to each and every student.  We are excited to welcome new families to our NLG community.  Thank you to everyone for all your support of NLG!  Together we enable individuals with autism to achieve their potential, both as children and as adults!

    Liz Martineau

    CEO, President and Clinical Director

     

     

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  • NLG Expands!

    Mar 04, 2015

    On behalf of the NLG Board, and on the 2nd birthday of our Adult Program, I am thrilled to announce a major advance in our mission of enabling individuals with autism to achieve their potential.   On February 23rd we purchased 170 Lexington Road in Billerica!  Click here for the press release.

    Our purchase of this building, which houses our Adult Program on the second floor, is exciting on 2 fronts.  First, the cost of operating our Adult Program will go down, reflecting the economics of owning versus renting.  This will reduce the size of the gap between our costs and government funding, allowing us to grow and enhancing our ability to make up the gap through annual fundraising in the face of continual funding uncertainty. 

    Second, the space we gain on the first floor will allow us to expand our School program to a second site and increase our overall enrollment!   We will renovate this space during the spring and plan to welcome our first new students in the summer.  Over the next few years, we will be able to add 40 additional students, in addition to the 90 we now serve.  We can help more of those who desperately need us. 

    In order to facilitate the renovation of the building and fund the working capital costs of expanding our enrollment, NLG is launching a Capital Campaign.  The goal of the campaign is to raise $1,500,000.  We have already received a grant from the Yawkey Foundation of$300,000 for capacity expansion and gifts and pledges totaling an additional $150,000.   We will work to complete the campaign within 18 months.  We would be grateful for your participation and your help engaging your networks in the effort!  Specific opportunities are noted on the attachment and we would be pleased to provide you with more information.

    This is such an exciting opportunity for NLG to significantly increase our capacity to provide the high quality services those more impaired by autism need to achieve their potential!  The growing number of individuals with autism is well documented, as is the lack of availability of the services they need to be productive members of the community.   With your help we can take this important step to meet the growing need for services for individuals more impaired by autism.  Please join us in our Campaign!

    Sincerely,

    Liz

    Liz Martineau

    CEO, President and Clinical Director
     

     

     
    Nashoba Learning Group Capital Campaign
    Sponsorship Opportunities

     

    Opportunity  Level Number
    Cornerstone Sponsor  $100,000  1
     Kitchen Sponsor  $50,000  1
     Nurses Clinic Sponsor  $50,000  1
     Vocational Sponsor  $25,000  1
     Classroom Sponsor  $25,000  8
     New Student Sponsor  $10,000  40
     Teacher work area Sponsor  $ 5,000  15
     NLG Supporter  various  

     

     

    ** All sponsors will receive prominent acknowledgement of your donation in all printed and electronic platforms in 2015 – 2016 and on permanent congregate recognition signage in the area funded. 

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  • NLG completes purchase of 170 Lexington Road in Billerica

    Feb 26, 2015

    Thursday, February 26th, 2015 Nashoba Learning Group, Inc. purchases building in Billerica, MA.

    NLG is thrilled to announce a major advance in our mission of enabling individuals with autism to achieve their potential.
    The purchase of this building, which currently houses our Adult Program on the second floor, is exciting on 2 fronts.
    First, the cost of operating our Adult Program will go down significantly, reflecting the economics of owning versus renting.
    Second, the space we gain on the first floor will allow us to expand our School program to a second site and increase our overall enrollment!

    This is such an exciting opportunity for NLG to significantly increase our capacity to provide the high quality services those more impaired by autism need to achieve their potential!





  • NLG Parent/Guardian Survey Overall Satisfaction Rating June 2014

    Jun 27, 2014
    The results of NLG’s Parent Guardian Satisfaction survey are in!  Parents/Guardians of those served by NLG rated us on 35 measures of program quality.  Thank you to all who participated, we are very gratified by the very high overall ratings ( 4.6 on a 5 point scale) and motivated by the specific feedback on areas of strength and areas for improvement.

    Go comment!
  • The following appeared on Bostonglobe.com

    Oct 09, 2013

    Headline: Some joy and trepidation - The Boston Globe

    Date:     Oct 9, 2013 

    Here, in a blank brick building in a suburban office park, is an autism quite different from the high-functioning version we’re accustomed to. And a glimpse of a future for which we’re woefully unprepared. These kids are not the hyper-focused math whizzes, or the ones with encyclopedic knowledge of transit systems, who have trouble communicating or reading social cues. They’re at the other end of the spectrum, their limitations more profound. The number of people with autism in this country has exploded over the last two decades. Twenty times more children are diagnosed with some form of autism now than in the 1980s. A whopping 500,000 will enter adulthood in the next decade. We’re nowhere near ready to deal with them.

    (to read the full story please click on the link below)

     

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/10/05/some-joy-and-trepidation/TfTunjC9oQ1f91LAj3YEwO/story.html?s_campaign=8315

     

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  • New NLG Web Portal Offerings

    May 10, 2013

    NLG is pleased to announce a major addition to the library of BCBA Continuing Education offerings and Curriculum write-ups available on our web portal www.nashobalearninggroup.org.  Our new CEU video is titled Teaching Essential Life Skills to Adolescents and Teenagers with Autism and includes the skill areas of: Independent use of Public Restrooms, Time Telling, and Restaurant skills (as a customer).  We have added a new category to our curriculum write-ups, Daily Living Skills, with four individual skill area write-ups and a bundled offering.   We have added a write-up called Shopping for Clothes to our Math/Economics/Money Management/Shopping Category.

    Go to the Training and Outreach tab to see the NLG programming we have made available for the benefit of individuals with autism.

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  • New CEU Presentation

    Dec 21, 2012
    NLG is pleased to announce the availability of a new CEU presentation on our web portal: Preparing for Adulthood: Life Skills Assessment and Training.   You can access this video by clicking on our Training and Outreach Tab.
    Go comment!
  • Announcing the launch of NLG's Curriculum Writeups!

    Nov 28, 2012
    NLG is pleased to make available through our website a selection of our teaching programs. These write-ups detail NLG's innovative teaching methodologies for a variety of essential life skills. They are available to download for the benefit of individuals with autism. Click on the Training and Outreach tab to access these materials.  Don't forget to share this link with anyone interested in teaching individuals with autism!
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  • Congratulations to Christian Baker, Ben Brea and Kate Brea!

    Oct 17, 2012
    Please join us in congratulating NLG student siblings Christian Baker, Ben Brea and Kate Brea, for winning an honorary Youth Advocate of the Year Award (YAY) from the Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) organization. This award was presented at MAC’s 40th anniversary event on Thursday evening, October 11th in Boston and is in recognition of their leadership in creating, implementing and continuing to facilitate a siblings group for siblings of NLG students. These leaders have decided to use the $500 they won as part of this award toward enrollment at a youth leadership conference for the NLG siblings who succeed them in their roles of overseeing this initiative next summer/fall when they will be going away to college.
    Go comment!
  • 33rd Berkshire Association of Behavior Analysis Conference

    Oct 16, 2012
    Seven Nashoba Learning Group staff members presented NLG’s work at the 33rd Berkshire Association of Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT) Annual Conference on October 10-11 in Amherst Massachusetts.  This conference was attended by over 1,000 behavior analysts.  NLG presented a 2 part Workshop: Skills Assessment and Training for Vocational and Life Skills for Young Adults with Autism (presented by: Liz Martineau, Heather Bairos and Mandy Birt); a symposium: Teaching Essential Life skills to Adolescents and Teenagers with Autism (presented by Liz Martineau, Mandy Birt, Amber Jastrab and Heather Bairos); a paper: Using Stimulus Equivalence to Teach Peer Social Information (presented by Stephanie Shaw and Erica Christin); and Participated in an Ethics Panel (Jessica Slaton).  NLG is proud to share our program innovations for the benefit of all those with autism and we were pleased to participate in this well-regarded conference.
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  • New NLG Web Site Launch

    Jan 30, 2012
    NLG is pleased to announce the launch on March 1st 2012 of our enhanced website with video portal.  Through this portal, professionals and parents worldwide can learn about NLG’s program innovations.  Board Certified Behavior Analysts will be able to earn Continuing Education Credits.  This capability will enable NLG to further our mission of enhancing the services available to all children and adults with autism by making the knowledge we have developed accessible to others.  We are excited to broaden our reach in this way for the benefit of those with Autism.
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  • Yawkey Foundation Grant

    Nov 27, 2011
    We are proud to announce that NLG was awarded a $150,000 grant by the Yawkey Foundation in November 2011.  We are pleased to be featured in the 2010 Yawkey Foundation Annual report. You can find more information by following the attached link. http://yawkeyfoundation.org/pdf/Yawkey_grants_report_2010.pdf
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NLG In The News

The Boston Globe: January 10, 2008
Making Room For Autism

The Portsmouth Herald: July 31, 2004
Sprague’s Boss Bikes 1,000 Miles for Charity