Arlington Student and Supporting Staff Recognized at MCC RISE Showcase

Congratulations to Paul Conty who has been recognized by Middlesex Community College (MCC) for his academic accomplishments there this year. Paul is one of two AHS students enrolled at Middlesex as part of the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI). The college-school partnership grants made through this state-funded program enable students with low-incidence disabilities to enroll in college while still receiving special education services through their public school districts. MCC has been an MAICEI partner since 2014.

Recognizing that community-based learning experiences would be of value to Arlington students, AHS Transition Coordinator Annalise Abdelnour worked to establish the AHS-Middlesex relationship. She has served as the MAICEI Coordinator for the last two years, communicating with MCC on behalf of the students. During this time three students have taken part. 

Paul will continue to study at MCC next year where he will be joined by another Arlington student. His career goal is to work in aerospace engineering, and after completing two years at MCC he intends to transfer to U Mass Lowell. Paul plans to major in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Aerospace, and he has been working with his Educational Coach Bridget Kiejna to identify, choose, and register in the courses that will help him achieve these goals.

Ms. Kiejna attends class with Paul and provides him the structure he needs to support his executive functioning. He navigates campus independently and has had an impressive first year. Ms.Kiejna assists him with scheduling his time, creating a homework plan, and understanding how to get things done. She also serves as his advocate with professors and makes sure he gets the services he needs. Structured time at AHS is provided for him to get his homework done, and he has access to a social worker and speech therapist at the high school.

MCC holds a RISE Showcase at the end of each year to celebrate the MAICEI students and their accomplishments. The event was attended by both the Provost and the Dean of Students who spoke to all the participants as well as by the MCC President. Each student created posters about the classes they took, the extracurricular activities they took part in, and any work experiences they had. Some students chose to demonstrate what they have learned such as by playing piano or giving a speech to practice public speaking. Paul, who was accompanied by his father, was specifically recognized for earning college credit in his coursework that included Calculus 2, Macroeconomics, and English Composition 1. Ms. Kiejna and Ms. Abdelnour were also recognized for their contributions.

Ms. Kiejna reports that Paul has “..positive feelings about his college experience.” His ability to understand concepts has been recognized throughout his educational career. He readily accepts the help with regulation in class and managing the sensory inputs and needs of being out in the community that Ms. Kiejna provides. The goal is for Paul to develop the skills necessary to attend classes on his own.

Like all students with an Individualized Education Plan, Paul’s needs, abilities, goals, and the possibilities for continued education were identified and discussed with his family as he progressed through school. Ms. Abdelnour believes that Paul’s accomplishments help break down the stereotypes of what these young people can achieve. MAICEI aligns perfectly with the Arlington Public Schools diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and the district is very supportive of having students in the program.

As she thinks about future directions, Ms. Abdelnour is considering expanding to include a program that introduces students to the working world. She thinks of it as a Community Work or internship program and she is looking for business partners that would be willing and able to accept students with disabilities. If you are connected to anyone with a business that might be interested in hosting these students, or are part of an organization that would consider being included, you may reach out to her at [email protected]. Ms. Abdelnour knows that with the right services these students can reach their full potential and she believes that  “...the opportunities are endless.”


Photo Captions:

Photo 1 - Paul Conty (center) stands with his Educational Coach Bridget Kiejna, his father Chris Conty, and the AHS MAICEI and Transition Coordinator Annalise Abdelnour at the MCC RISE Showcase.

Photo 2 - Middlesex Community College Dean and Provost stand with Educational Coach Bridget Kiejna who was recognized at the RISE Showcase.

Photo 3 - Paul Conty receives his honor and stands with the MCC Dean, Provost and Middlesex RISE Coordinator Ed Dunn at the RISE Showcase.