Happy Birthday Ellis!

Dear Family and Friends,

Can you believe that six years ago, on November 20th of 2012 to be exact, the Ellis Center was born? Back then, my husband Tim and I spent exhausting years hearing from others what wasn't possible because our son’s needs were not addressed through a standard special education curriculum. Meanwhile, we saw him begin to slip away due to a system that didn’t work for our nontraditional learner.

Our son, who once loved interacting with the world and those around him, had retreated into his shell. This all changed when we made the bold decision that would change our lives forever—to start Ellis. As we absorbed as much knowledge from therapists, educators and national experts as we could, we quickly realized we were on to something amazing.  Creating a place where every child could be heard and communicate was formed with a mission focused on what IS possible. 

Our son started this new way of learning, and we saw him blossom into to a happy and engaged child.  As word spread about his changes and the magic we had unknowingly created, parents reached out to me daily wanting to know more. We made the decision that we couldn’t be selfish and keep this groundbreaking idea to ourselves, and—working together with dedicated providers, experts in deafblindness and communication facilitation, and special education leaders—Ellis began growing. Six years later, we now provide Camp ImpAACt, Community Education Events, Evaluation Services and a School Program that includes summer school and six full-time students each with a one-on-one intervener. 

At the end of the day, what we want is to provide an outlet and opportunities for other children and their families to be heard in our community. We have seen that again this year with our 20 campers, 3 summer school students and 6 full-time students as well as the over 100 parents, educators, and therapists who have joined us for Community Education events.  We have captured something great at the Ellis Center, and we know that we must continue to reach more and serve more in our community. 

Of course, we have not gotten where we are alone. Through the support of our friends, families, board members, donors, staff and volunteers we can make this all possible for the over 130 people we directly serve each year. With that being said, we want you to celebrate our birthday with us! Join us in sharing your stories, providing us support and helping us make an impact for the next 6 years and more to come. 

Happy Birthday Ellis Center!
Alison Caputo
Executive Director and Co-Founder

New Name. Same Ellis.

The Ellis School is now the Ellis Center!

As you already know, Ellis is so much more than a school! We offer a variety of programs such as Camp ImpAACt, Evaluation Services, and Community Education events.

In order to reflect ALL the ways we serve our community we are now officially the Ellis Center!

Make sure you check-out our new social media names on Facebook and Instagram to stay connected.

Thank You All for Helping Us S.T.E.A.M. into Summer!

We'd like to take the time and thank our wonderful volunteers and donors that made Camp ImpAACt 2018 an amazing experience!
Thanks to your donations and volunteer time, our exceptional campers:

  • Socialized with their peers through AAC

  • Learned about S.T.E.A.M. themed activities through hands-on and adapted activities

  • Had some summer fun and made lifelong memories!

Ellis couldn't have done it without you!

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Full-time School is Back in Session!

Our full-time students have started their fall semester and can't wait to learn about new subjects!
The semester is divided into three units:
1. Life science/plants
2. Maps and Geography
3. Traditions in our communities

Our lead teachers and communication facilitators will incorporate math, reading, skills for independence, and social studies into the overarching units. 

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Summer School Successes

How much can students accomplish in only four weeks? With a highly trained staff and a proven teaching model quite a bit! We are beyond proud of the success of our Summer School program.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Students mastered 96% of their educational goals

  • Expanded ways to communicate via sign language, AAC devices, and gestures

  • Enhanced socialization with their peers thanks to their communication facilitators and interveners

To learn more about our Summer School program please email us at info@elliscenter.org

My Week at Camp ImpAACt: S.T.E.A.M. Into Summer!

I had the amazing opportunity of volunteering at Camp ImpAACt this summer and it was AWESOME! I am a Speech-Language Pathologist in Austin, TX and I am very passionate about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). I wanted to spend my summer volunteering at a summer camp dedicated to AAC and I was thrilled when the Ellis asked me to be a group leader.

We started the week with a training on AAC and Aided Language Input by Vicki Clarke. The group leaders and one-on-one volunteers practiced using high and low tech communication devices to get to know each other. It was wonderful to learn more about AAC and to further understand how our campers communicate.

The theme for the week was S.T.E.A.M. into summer- science, technology, engineering, art and math activities for all levels of communicators. The campers and their one-on-one volunteers enjoyed activities such as making rain clouds, constellation matching, building molecules, and making lava lamps. Along with the STEAM activities, the campers had sessions with music, speech, physical and occupational therapist throughout the week.

Over the week, I learned so much more about AAC and how to facilitate communication during various camp activities. Partner modeling is so important when learning to use AAC for adults and children. At Camp ImpAACt, each camper was provided with a communication partner who modeled language by pointing to symbols on their camper’s AAC system while simultaneously talking. The campers learned a variety of communicative functions such as requesting, greeting, commenting, naming, expressing feelings and answering questions during various activities. Watching my campers access their devices to communicate with peers and their one-on-one volunteers was an SLP’s dream!

Camp ImpAACt is so special because it provides each child with the opportunity to fully participate in all camp activities adapted for AAC users. All of my campers thrived during Camp ImpAACt with the help of their volunteers and various specialist. The campers were able to communicate with peers and volunteers using the same mode of communication they use. I learned so much at Camp ImpAACt and I am so thankful I was provided the opportunity to volunteer and further my knowledge in the area of AAC!!

-Alyssa Jacobs, SLP