Thursday, April 29, 2010

Secretary's Awards for Excellence in Energy and Enviironmental Education

I am excited to share with  you that Brian Giampietro and the Cardinal Cushing Green Team have been selected to receive a Certificate of Honor at the annual Secretary’s Award Ceremony at State House, Boston in the Great Hall on Friday, April 30th at 11 a.m. Congradulations to our Green Team seen here at Fenway Park.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our Own Larry Sauer's Commentary on Education Funding

The Patriot Ledger

Posted Apr 24, 2010 @ 04:22 PM

COMMENTARY BY LAWRENCE E. SAUER — Many people in Massachusetts know education funding is one of the most crucial and challenging issues we are facing, and that some students are lacking in educational resources.

Now, imagine a special needs student, already disadvantaged, who is struggling but may not have access to necessary learning tools and treatment in school because of a lack of funding that has reached crisis proportions.

Through my work at Cardinal Cushing School, I witness this happening to special needs students every day, so I’m asking the Legislature to listen.

Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposed 2011 budget cuts funding for special education by 41 percent and freezes private special education schools tuition rates for the second year in a row. This, while increasing regular education spending by $178 million. The special education cuts, if carried out through the budget process over the next several months, will mean that the needs of the most severely disabled children in our state will not be met.

Another factor is the increasing number of disabled children surviving to school age because of medical advances. The number of moderately-to-severely disabled children, age 0-3, served in Massachusetts early intervention services has more than tripled, increasing from 6,000 to 26,000 from 1992 to 2007. Children born at low birth weight or those born prematurely are surviving in higher numbers, and are far more likely to require intensive, highly specialized and costly services for many years to come.

The private schools, members of the Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools, that teach our state’s special needs students offer highly trained specialists, and in many cases operate 24/7, 365 days a year. They have experts to teach autistic children, experts who educate deaf and blind students, and have teachers and clinicians for those with other learning-and-behavioral disabilities.

Chapter 766 schools serve over 6,000 of the most challenged and vulnerable public students in our state. These students are only placed in C766 schools when public schools are not equipped to provide the specialized education and treatment they require. In many cases, the graduates are able to become productive members of society and contribute to our economy, often living independently and holding meaningful jobs.

Not only do many of the graduates go on to become contributing members of the state’s economy, the schools bring in over $165 million to the commonwealth annually through out-of-state students, and they employ nearly 11,000 teachers, clinicians and child care staff.

I encourage lawmakers to ensure all children – those taught out of district in private special needs settings as well as others – get the best education possible.

Lawrence E. Sauer is vice president for student programs and Services at Cardinal Cushing School, a special education day and residential school in Hanover.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Remembering Marsha Brieteneicher

The Cardinal Cushing Centers and especially our Braintree St. Colleta Day School community suffered a great loss recently.  Marsha Brieteneicher died after a brave struggle with cancer. Marsha was one of, if not, our longest serving employee still with us. She began working with the school in the sixties, with a break of a few years in the 70s. She work approximately 40 years for the organization. She was an important part of the glue that held Braintree together and allowed it to grow and flourish. She cared deeply about the students and the staff she worked with. She is sorely missed.
She is pictured with. from right to left, Sean Finnerty, Marsha, Kris Lanf, Ron Shepherd and Steve Hughes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another Art Show ( and I never get tired of bragging)

On Thursday evening, April 15th, several Cardinal Cushing artists will have their art exhibited at the 3rd Annual Arc of Massachusetts Art Exhibit and Auction at the National Heritage Museum, Lexington, MA. Each artist will have their work auctioned to the highest bidder, proceeds go to the artist and massarc to help fund their programs. This is a great honor for our artists, as each piece of art was screened by a committee and chosen for its unique quality. I am very proud of these artists and all the artists in the Art program, as they continue to create spectacular pieces of art, everyday amazes me.

The artists participating in Lexington are, Julie with a tempera paint sponge print, Marie with a watercolor tile press print, Miguel with a tempera paints on tissue paper and Nick 's  watercolor markers on cotton fabric. Nick is also showing his art at the Cambridge Art Association’s open studio event on April 24-25,. I already blogged about his  one man show in Cambridge earlier this year!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

First Book Sold

Here is a picture from the recent Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress convention. Thanks to Heather for the picture and to all of you who stopped by and bought the book-and learned more about Cardinal Cushing Centers. I really want to increase the number of people who follow this blog. When I reach 50 followers, one lucky follower will win an Ipod shuffle.  Please help and sign up to be a follower.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Steve Morse Mentions us in Boston Globe Autism Article

A spectrum of experience, in song

Benefit CD tries to dispel myths about autism

By Steve Morse, Globe Correspondent
April 4, 2010

John O’Neil spent seemingly “20 hours a day’’ thinking about what to do for his autistic son, James. He and his wife sued James’s school district in New Jersey to get extra help. They hired specialists to work with him at home. Finally, on the commuter train to his job in Manhattan, O’Neil starting writing confessional poems that would become song lyrics in the hands of his neighbors, who are in the indie-folk band the Cucumbers. The songs rattled off the frustrations and the joys of raising an autistic child.

“Nothing’s ever brought me so much happiness; nothing’s ever caused me so much pain,’’ went one tune recorded by Jackson Browne as part of the new benefit album, “Sing SOS,’’ standing for “Songs on the Spectrum.’’

I can relate. I’m also the parent of an autistic boy. My son Nick, 21, has fought valiantly, just as James O’Neil has. In fact, James, now in eighth grade, closes out the new album (due out Tuesday and available at with his own poem put to music. He explains his world view: “My thoughts have just been a forest.’’

Or, as Kelly Flint, another singer on the album (and mother of an autistic son) notes: “Autistic children don’t go from A to B. They go from A to CDEFG, then to B.’’ So true.

Hopefully people will listen, because this smartly cathartic album — which includes tracks by Marshall Crenshaw, Dar Williams, and Ari Hest — tries to dispel myths about autism, which affects 1 in 100 children.

“Autism is a concept that sounds weird and scary to people,’’ says O’Neil, an editor and writer at The New York Times. “Part of the reason that we haven’t responded adequately as a society is that many people don’t know what it is. They think of it not as an ‘us’ situation but as a ‘them’ situation.’’

Wikipedia describes autism as a “disorder of neural development caused by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.’’ No one, unfortunately, knows what causes it.

O’Neil’s son, who has made remarkable progress and jumped on the phone to chat for this story, was “far away and lost in autism’’ when he was younger, recalls Jon Fried of the Cucumbers, who wrote most of the music with his wife, Deena Shoshkes. In the song “Diagnosis’’ is this wrenching line: “How far will he fall — send me a ladder to his soul . . . [He’s] alone in a corner rocking in a chair staring into a mirror.’’

These and other tracks challenge the listener, but they’re generally framed in breezy melodies stretching from Beatlesque folk-pop to moving, Rosanne Cash-like ballads to buoyant Everly Brothers influences.

O’Neil’s son now plays guitar and is mainstreamed in an eighth-grade classroom. My son, Nick, has made strides, too. He has become a skilled abstract painter who just had a monthlong exhibit at ZuZu in Central Square and will show his work as part of Cambridge Arts Council’s Open Studios on April 24-25 at the Ice Cream Factory Lofts in North Cambridge. He has been a student at the Cardinal Cushing Centers in Hanover, which has done wonders with him.

The album was aided by producer Mike Visceglia, who has played bass with Williams and Suzanne Vega and put together a band for the project. Singer Marshall Chapman was the first national act to be coaxed on board. He sings “Understanding,’’ a backbeat-fueled rocker with the verse, “There’s a boy inside who’s having fun — maybe of a different kind.’’

Chapman has a niece with autism. “She has a higher level of innocence compared to other people her age,’’ he says. “She is very loving, and she loves my two kids. We have a close family, and I see her a lot. She’s in my thoughts, so I was glad to be part of this project.’’

Browne replied next, and his presence sparked others to join such as Ollabelle, Richard Julian, Jonatha Brooke, Dan Bern, and Don Dixon and Marti Jones, who have an autistic son.

The most poignant number is “House on Fire,’’ sung by Williams. It’s about O’Neil’s comment on a traditional father’s hope of playing baseball with his son and maybe building things with him. But now, she sings, “the baseball glove is gathering dust, the tools in the woodshed rust.’’

“I liked the way that song got right to the point,’’ says Williams, who has friends with children on the spectrum. “It deals with fantasy hitting reality head on.’’

I used to take my son to watch baseball games, but he couldn’t follow the path of the ball. For the same reason, he couldn’t play soccer. Today, though, he can dribble a basketball and serve a volleyball. These kids, O’Neil says, are “full of surprises.’’ His boy still has trouble fitting in socially (as does mine), but O’Neil says: “He has come a long way.’’

Suddenly, James grabs the phone from his dad and is on the line, describing his progress. “It’s like the Evanescence song ‘Bring Me to Life,’ ’’ he says. “It’s the same concept of open-mindedness. . . . It’s about bridging the normal world and the autistic world.’’

At first, O’Neil worried about James’s reaction to the album, but James admits to being excited at the thought that he might now be a “celebrity.’’

Then he says something that startles with its immediacy: “I feel like I’ve gotten to the normal world.’’

Steve Morse, a former Globe staff music critic, can be reached at

© Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company