50 Faces of The Arc – Ronan

For the past four years, Ronan has been attending The Aurora School, (a year-round school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities). His ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Instructor, Ashley, describes Ronan as a an awesome, fun kid who’s also very loving,

“He’s always smiling and will come up and give you the biggest hug!”

exclaims Ashley.  Ashley goes on to say that the learning style at Aurora has left a huge impact on Ronan,

“Before coming here he couldn’t say much, but now he’s speaking words, and we can understand what he wants.”

Ronan is also learning how to use more verbs in his speech to convey what he needs, and will communicate with his instructors about what is bothering him instead of crying. Aurora’s unique program works for children like Ronan because they’re able to get the individual attention they need, Ashley explains,

“We genuinely care about our students and everyday we teach them appropriate skills they’ll use in their everyday life. We’re able to do all of this through ABA therapy, and I wish more people knew how our [Aurora’s] curriculum works.”

She goes on to say that because of the ABA therapy, and the dedication of the staff  Ronan is able to succeed,

“If he keeps learning at this rate, he’ll be unstoppable!”


50 Faces of The Arc – Katelyn

Katelyn was the first student to attend The Aurora School, a year-round school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her mom, the previous director of The Arc of Loudoun, started Aurora in 2003 along with all the other programs that are now part of The Arc. Katelyn was only eight years old when she first started attending Aurora and graduated this past August.


At Aurora, Katelyn has learned to become more accepting of changes in her environment. Her Program Director, Maureen, says,

“Before, she wanted to control everything in the environment. If she walked in a room, she wouldn’t like if the lights were turned on, or if other people were talking.”

Katelyn also wouldn’t like if things weren’t in their proper place, but can now tolerate if items have suddenly moved. Maureen states,

“If a notebook was always on the right side of her table and you moved it, she’d have to put it where exactly where it was before. She’s learning to ignore those changes now.”

Furthermore, Katelyn’s academic skills have also improved, she’s able to add and subtract double digits along with balancing a checkbook. Daniel, her ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Instructor, also says her progress with communicating has gotten better,

“Before she had little to no communication. Now she’s clearer to understand when she speaks and is really good at answering ‘who,’ ‘what,’ and ‘where’ questions.”


Daniel says he enjoyed working with Katelyn because of her happy, outgoing, and friendly personality. He states,

“I like working with her because she challenges me and she’s taught me so much about myself. She’s also super fun and is always saying humorous things!”


After being asked why The Arc is so important for students like Katelyn, Daniel responds,

“We’re really the only school like this in this area. And without it [The Arc] a lot of things would fall apart. What we do for all the kids here is huge!”


50 Faces of The Arc – Sharon & Conner

Sharon and Conner are mother and son who’ve been a part of The Arc of Loudoun community since 2015. The pair are advocates who passed Conner’s Law in Virginia. The law ensures that both parents of children with severe disabilities will pay child support, even after the child has turned eighteen. While attending a rally in Richmond two years ago, Sharon and Conner met Melissa, The Arc of Loudoun’s now Executive Director. Since then, Melissa has provided guidance and support to Sharon and Conner about passing Conner’s Law in other states. Through ALLY (A Life Like Yours) Advocacy Center, Conner has joined Speak Up, which is The Arc’s self-advocacy and public speaking group. Sharon says that Speak Up allowed Conner to learn about advocating for himself and make friends,

“Speak Up gave Conner an opportunity to feel included and he felt like he really fit in.”

Sharon goes on to say that she is very proud to be affiliated with The Arc of Loudoun,

“I’m extremely impressed with The Arc and how much they give back. We’ve met a lot of amazing people here who all contribute so much to the community!”


50 Faces of The Arc – Crystal

Before becoming a teacher at the intentionally inclusive preschool known as ODLC (Open Door Learning Center), Crystal was a regular volunteer for The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus. Crystal explains,

“Four years ago, my daughter Autumn was getting bullied at school and didn’t have the best self-esteem, and then I heard volunteering was a good outlet.”

After searching online, and completing a survey with her daughter’s interests, Shocktober popped up online as a recommendation. Shocktober is The Arc’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The mansion on campus, Paxton Manor, is used as a haunted house where thousands of people come during weekends in October to walk through the house and get a good scare. All of the proceeds go towards one of The Arc’s programs: ALLY (A Life Like Yours) Advocacy Center. Crystal goes on to say,

“The volunteer program looked like it was also catered for adults, so I asked Autumn if I could do it too, and it became something we both got to do together.”


Both Crystal and Autumn would soon fall in love with acting as terrifying characters inside and outside of the haunted mansion where they dubbed it as “scare therapy.” One year after volunteering, they were both asked to join Shocktober’s creative side of the haunt. Crystal says,

“We jumped on board with it! We were then able to help with the behind the scenes stuff, like coming up with new ideas for the haunt.”

Soon, both Crystal and Autumn would start volunteering at more of The Arc’s community events,

“We then started doing face painting at the Spring Festival and Music at the Manor.”

Crystal, with a background in teaching preschool for the past 20 years, would also be asked to join the ODLC team in 2016.


Crystal explains that The Arc does a lot for people with disabilities, but it also helps out the community as a whole,

“I signed up to volunteer in order to help with Autumn’s self confidence and it did amazing things for her! She was having a hard time making friends and dealing with bullies, and coming here– that all went away. Everybody here accepted you no matter what.”

Without The Arc, Crystal doesn’t believe her relationship with her daughter would be as great as it is now saying,

“I wouldn’t be as happy and content. My daughter’s confidence wouldn’t be as strong as it is. And my family would still be struggling with a lot of issues. Volunteers give a lot, but get a lot back as well. I’ve gained so much from working and volunteering here–and so has my daughter.”


Crystal says her favorite thing about working and volunteering for The Arc is the outpouring positivity on campus.

“I love what they do for everybody, it’s such a positive experience! Whether you work here, volunteer here, or get services from here– everything is so positive.”


Furthermore, Crystal explains that she loves working as an instructor at ODLC, because she’s able to build the students up.

“At The Arc we say, ‘Yes you can do that.’ We help them meet their goals.” As for what she wishes more people knew about The Arc, Crystal exclaims, “I wish people knew how welcoming we are! It’s like coming home. I joke that this is my second home, because I’m here so much, but I’m here so much because I love it. This is one my favorite places in the world!”


50 Faces of The Arc – Katie

Katie has been working at The Aurora School, a year-round school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for the past 10 years. She began as an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) instructor and is now the testing coordinator. She tests each of the students at Aurora so that they meet all of their required goals. Katie’s favorite part of her job is working with the students saying,

“I love the kids. I do. Since I have to prepare all the student’s individual tests, I get to know each of them really well.”


Working with all the students allows Katie to see the progress they’re making, which keeps her motivated and passionate about her job. She exclaims,

“It’s amazing to see the progress, and makes me want to come to work every day! We’re doing something good here [Aurora]. We’re literally changing lives. And not just the kids’ lives but their families’ as well.”

Through the different activities at Aurora, students are able to go on CBI (Community Based Instruction) trips, where they can practice social skills at the grocery store, restaurants, libraries, etc. Katie says,

“Because of CBI, parents are now able to take their kids to the mall or grocery store without a meltdown. They’re able to take them to out to eat for the first time. It’s made all the difference in the world in their lives.”


In addition to working as the testing coordinator at Aurora, Katie also volunteers every year at Paxton’s biggest fundraiser of the year: Shocktober. Katie has a starring role as Mawmaw Carver, one of the spooky line entertainment characters for the popular haunted attraction. She’s been a volunteer and an actor since the fundraiser began eight years ago. Katie says,

“To use my goofy skills [acting as Mawmaw Carver] to help raise that kind of money has been such an unbelievable opportunity.”

Even when she’s in character, Katie still manages to educate all the Shocktober attendees about the importance of the fundraiser stating,

“I tell people what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and where the money goes– and how it will go to good use.”


Katie is also pleased with all of the different ways that The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus helps the disability community saying,

“We have holiday parties and a Spring Festival, where children with disabilities who may not have the chance to see Santa or the Easter bunny, now get that opportunity. And it’s free and open to the entire community! We also have the Music at the Manor concerts, which is a great event for the community to come and hang out.”


In the future, Katie hopes to continue working at The Arc and help kids to the best of her ability saying,

“I feel good working here. I feel like my life means something. This place makes me feel like, ‘I make a difference.’ If I can get through to a student having a tough time, then I’ve done a good thing. It’s so worth it.”


50 Faces of The Arc – Jonny

Jonny has been working at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus for the past three years, where started as a member of STEP Up (Supported Training & Employment Program); a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. He is now the Facilities Assistant for the entire campus! His supervisor, Greg, describes Jonny as goofy, honest and empathetic.

 “He’s my right hand man– I don’t know what I’d do without his help,” he says. “He’ll also do his best to pick you up when you’re feeling down and makes everybody feel good about themselves.”


At The Arc, Jonny works three times a week where his specializes in landscaping.

“He loves lawn mowing,” says Greg, “but he’ll also do gardening, weeding, painting–he’s versatile in many different skills. And if he doesn’t know how to do it, he can learn very quickly by just watching.”


When Jonny’s not working, he loves to act, sing, and dance– any form of self expression he enjoys. Greg says he and Jonny have volunteered as actors for the past three years in The Arc’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Shocktober, where thousands of people come to walk through the haunted Paxton Manor for a good scare. Greg says,

“Oh, he loves Shocktober! All year he’s asking about it, and he just loves to scare people.”


Greg explains that places like The Arc are so important for people like Jonny because it gives him job experience and legitimate references,

“We give Jonny the freedom to make mistakes, but also to learn from them. Some people will give him a job, but be on his back all day. Not here, we give him that independence.”

Greg goes on to say that Jonny’s future goal is to have a full time job,

“He wants to work every day, all the time, just like you and me. I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t enjoy working with him. He’s really a stand up young man!”


50 Faces of The Arc- Jaquan and Owen

Since Jaquan has just graduated from The Aurora School, we thought we’d share his and Owen’s story as the next #50FacesofTheArc
Both boys have been attending the school for over six years, and were immediate best friends. Together, the boys love being active and enjoy participating in P.E. class where they play sports such as baseball and flag football. But their all-time favorite game to play is the card game, “War”, which they often play together.
Both boys are very creative. One of their ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) instructors, Britney, says Owen will write lyrics to his own songs, where he’ll sign them off with: “Written and Performed by Owen”. He’ll also constantly recite lines to DVDs and Youtube videos that he watches. Jaquan is just as self-expressive, Britney says,
“He’s super imaginative and a great storyteller. He’s always making up different stories about his favorite action figures.”
Owen and Jaquan’s friendship involves more than just playing games and sports with each other. Since attending Aurora, Owen has been working on his communication skills. His instructors are teaching him about different emotions, and how to appropriately react to situations when he’s frustrated. Instead of crying when he is upset or sad, Owen will often go to Jaquan. Jaquan is then able to comfort Owen with a hug and cheer him up!
Britney says she loves working with both boys, exclaiming,
“Their friendship is so awesome, and I love that I get to be a part of it!” She goes on to state that she enjoys working with Jaquan and Owen because they have such different perspectives on life, “Jaquan, in particular, will ask hypothetical questions all the time. It’s really cool to look at things in a different way, through their eyes. They really blow my mind sometimes.”
Britney’s only wish is that more people were able to experience what it’s like working with the boys and all the Aurora students, saying
“Watching their progress and growth is amazing.”
We are so proud of both Jaquan and Owen, and we can’t wait to see each of them thrive!

50 Faces of The Arc- Winfield

Winfield is a shy, but kind, student at The Aurora School, a year-round school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities . His ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Instructor, Tara, says she’s seen dramatic progress with Winfield’s communication since attending the school,

“We got him an iPad to communicate and he picked up on it really quickly!”

she exclaimed. Before, Winfield would grab Tara’s arm to express his wants, expecting her to understand what he needed. But now he’s using the iPad to ask for specific things, whether it’s water or a toy.

His ABA Instructors like working with Winfield because he’s a very laid back kid, who “seems genuinely happy to be at school.” They also say he’s a very sweet student,

“He’ll express his emotions by grabbing your hand or hugging you.”

Tara explains that the teaching style at Aurora is such a huge factor in Winfield’s success because the instructors are able to provide so much support for him,

“Individual attention is unheard of at typical schools, but it’s something he completely needs. Here, he’s able to get consistent therapy, whether it’s occupational therapy or music therapy.”

Tara goes on to say that The Arc provides a lot of support for the community in general,

“We’re such a big platform for others. We’ll help parents with their kids through advocacy, and we give so many options for them that other places don’t. Anybody here will jump right in to help you if you need it!”


50 Faces of The Arc- Ariel

Ariel is a giddy and joyful six-year-old student at The Aurora School, a year-round school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Whitney, Ariel’s ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Instructor describes Ariel as the sweetest kid in the world,

“Her personality is just phenomenal.”


For the past year that she’s attended the school, Ariel has been excelling at her various goals.

“Her communication has gotten a lot better. She has ways of letting you know what she wants and doesn’t want,”

says Whitney. Ariel is also able to name items correctly when her instructor asks her to. Whitney states,

“If I ask her to give me a fork, she’s able to find it and give it me, which she wasn’t able to do before.”

One of Ariel’s goals also includes matching items into the correct category, Whitney explains,  

“If I have a water bottle, a thermos, or just a cup she’s able to match and indicate that they’re all within the cup category.”

Currently, Ariel is working on brushing her own hair, and simple tasks like picking up her backpack and hanging it in the correct place when she’s asked.


Whitney says Aurora is able to give all kids an opportunity to be themselves since every lesson plan is made to cater the individual student’s needs. Whitney exclaims,

“Here [at The Arc], kids like Ariel are given the chance to be like any other person in the community.”


50 Faces of The Arc- Ben

Ben is a happy, softspoken employee at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus. He has been in the STEP Up (Supported Training & Employment) Program for two years, which is a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. Ben comes to Paxton three times a week where he does various tasks on campus, such as helping out in the garden or assisting with the mobile snack cart. Ben’s aid, Ginny, says since being in STEP Up, he has become much more independent,

“Before he would expect for me or his parents to do a lot of tasks for him–but now if you show him the steps, and he gets enough practice, he’ll do it himself.”


In the afternoons, Ben also participates in STEP Up’s afternoon enrichment activities. He’ll enjoy coloring or completing jigsaw puzzles, but he absolutely loves going to Old Ox Brewery where he and the other STEP Up members volunteer their time to help package the brewery’s drinks. This opportunity allows Ben to get real life work experience. Ginny says,

“After seeing him [Ben] at Old Ox, I believe he can definitely try to get a part time job. He’s a hard worker, and once he gets into the swing of things he doesn’t want to stop until the job is done.”


Besides being in the STEP Up program, Ben also volunteers at The Arc’s events outside of work. He and his family have volunteered at The Arc’s biggest fundraiser of the year: Shocktober, where he took money and tickets at the attractions.


Ginny believes The Arc is so important for employees like Ben, because they provide so many advocacy opportunities saying,

“A lot of people don’t know or understand people who are like Ben, and The Arc does a great job of reaching out to the community and educating others.”

She goes on to say that STEP Up has had an extremely positive effect on Ben and herself exclaiming,

“I enjoy being around everybody [at STEP Up] and I love that Ben loves it. He’s made his best friends here!”

Ginny goes on to say that she’s learned so much from being around Ben,

“Because of him I’ve become more patient and kind. And I’m not the only one affected by Ben–anybody who’s around him is instantly happier!”  


50 Faces of The Arc – Tine

Tine has been working for The Arc of Loudoun since 2010, where she was initially hired as the Administrative Assistant for the intentionally inclusive preschool on campus, Open Door Learning Center (ODLC), however, she’s been the Director of ODLC for the past five years. As the mother of a child with a disability, Tine loved what The Arc was doing in 2010 and said,

“I met the past Directors of The Arc and loved their passion and knew I needed to be a part of that.”


Soon after telling the Directors she wanted to join the the Paxton team, Tine left her position at another preschool and helped with the creation of ODLC from the ground up. For Tine, working at an intentionally inclusive preschool, for both children with and without disabilities, was incredibly important. She says,

“My son Kyle got kicked out of three different preschools. At ODLC I have never called a parent to pick up their child because of a behavior issue. Ever.”

Tine goes on to explain that she wants to make it as smooth of a road as possible for parents of children with behavior challenges and disabilities stating,

“It was a very, very bumpy road for Kyle growing up, and I don’t want parents, nor the children, to go through what we went through.” She goes on to say, “What I get out of this job is seeing successes. Seeing children talking who couldn’t talk before they came here. It’s seeing children playing with their peers when they didn’t before. It’s having parents know we’re here for them, too.  We’re getting kids (and their parents!) kindergarten ready, whether that’s socially, emotionally or academically.”  


ODLC started with six kids in 2010, and since then, the school has enrolled students from West Virginia to Maryland, is being referred to by the county school system, and is packed with children. The school was also given accreditation in 2012, which Tine says is her proudest professional accomplishment,

“It wasn’t my effort alone, it was a TEAM effort.”

Now, Tine and her team focus on outreach to the community which includes training other preschools about the principles of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy. Tine credits The Arc of Loudoun for teaching her about ABA and the importance of outreach. She says,

“I got sick and tired of kids getting kicked out of schools. We’re doing something different here that works, so now I want to share what we do here with the community.”

Tine has given ABA training to preschools in the surrounding areas who will implement the teachings of ABA in their classrooms.


Seeing the successes of students is what Tine enjoys most about working for The Arc. She also loves how everybody who works for the organization wants to fulfill the same vision. She exclaims,

“We work as a team, and together make sure that the mission is accomplished! We see a need, we fill a need. And everyday at ODLC, we come in with a smile on our face, knowing we’re making a difference in the life of a child.”  


After seven years of growing the ODLC program at The Arc of Loudoun, Tine has made the difficult decision, based on personal reasons, to move to Pennsylvania. But she knows that the new leader of the ODLC team (Ms. Megan), will forward Tine’s vision and continue the campus mission.  She wishes the best for the preschool program, the children and parents at ODLC past and present, and all of the programs at The Arc, saying,

“The Arc and ODLC will always have a special place in my heart.  I’ll miss everyone dearly, but I also can’t wait to see what the future brings to the campus and ODLC!”


50 Faces of The Arc- Jude

Jude is a happy and social student at ODLC (Open Door Learning Center); an intentionally inclusive preschool at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus. Megan, the Program Director at ODLC says she “could cry” talking about Jude’s unbelievable progress since attending the school. Megan exclaims,

“It’s crazy to see how far she’s come! When she first started, she couldn’t say single words, and now she’s talking in full sentences. She’s also full of personality in conveying what she’s saying.”

Since attending ODLC for the past two years, Jude is now greeting her teachers and friends, telling stories about her family, and facilitating play between her peers.

Through the 1:1 ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy that ODLC provides, Jude was given the opportunity to expand her communication skills. Megan says,

“Since receiving ABA therapy her language has really blossomed. She’s able to express herself so well, and can communicate her preferences and make choices. She’s become so independent.”

Megan believes the extra coaching and teaching is what kickstarted Jude to start learning in the classroom on her own. Now, Jude prompts her peers to socially interact with each other and initiates her group of classmates to take turns,

“We’ve gone from working with her and teaching her– and now she’s the one who’s teaching her friends” states Megan.

Megan knows it’ll be hard to see Jude move on after she leaves preschool, but she’s fortunate to work at a place like The Arc where she can see the progress amongst all the students exclaiming, 

“Everybody here is so dedicated to unlocking the potential of every student who walks through these doors!”


50 Faces of The Arc- Jocelyn

Jocelyn is an upbeat and enthusiastic STEP Up employee at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus. She’s been a member of  STEP Up (Supported Training & Employment), a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities, for the past year. She works as the receptionist at the ALLY Advocacy Center twice a week. Her duties include greeting ALLY visitors, stocking the mobile snack cart, and completing any office work.

Although she loves working, Jocelyn enjoys the afternoon enrichment activities that the STEP Up program facilitates in the afternoon.

“I liked going on the field trip to the Air & Space Museum,” she said. “We [STEP Up] also volunteer and make sandwiches for people at the homeless shelter which is so fun!”

When Jocelyn isn’t working, she attends many of the events The Arc of Loudoun hosts for its members and the community. She’s watched the sensory sensitive movies at Cobb Theater, attended the annual Spring Festival, and volunteered at the Last Ride attraction for Paxton’s biggest fundraiser of the year: Shocktober. But Jocelyn’s absolute favorite event to attend are the dances exclaiming,

“I love going to the dances. I always have a good time there!” When asked why she likes The Arc, Jocelyn says, “I like working here because it keeps me busy and it’s a lot of fun. Plus, I’ve made so many friends here!”


50 Faces of The Arc- Megan

Megan is the Program Director at ODLC (Open Door Learning Center), an intentionally inclusive preschool on Paxton Campus. She previously worked at The Aurora School as a Team Lead before transferring to the preschool. Megan was immediately attracted to working at The Arc of Loudoun because of how much of a resource they are to the disability community. She says,

“There’s really nothing like The Arc. It’s such an honor to work alongside people who uphold the mission of helping children and families affected by disabilities.”

Megan enjoys working with the ODLC students in particular because of her background in early intervention. She exclaims,

“It’s amazing to see how ABA intervention is making a world of a difference in their lives at such a young age.”

Megan believes ABA therapy plays a huge part in the success of the children, and since students at ODLC are able to participate in ABA therapy as part of their curriculum, Megan has observed countless numbers of students grow in both their behavior and communication skills.

“Some children have difficulty with aggression or they  do not have functional forms of communication,” she explains. “But with ABA therapy we’re able to teach them replacement behaviors that are appropriate, like asking instead of yelling for what they want.”

Megan says she loves the ODLC program because she sees enormous improvement in students in a short amount of time. Megan’s observed students who were previously not  able to say words  now reciting the whole alphabet. She’s also seen progress with children who had difficulty being social, stating,

“Now those same students who would always play alone are engaging with their peers.”

Megan believes The Arc of Loudoun is a great resource for the community exclaiming,

“I feel like the whole campus is an ‘Open Door!’ We are so welcoming through our events, and we are a resource  for so many families through our different classes and workshops.”

In the next fifty years Megan hopes The Arc will continue to thrive, grow, and be a light for the community.


50 Faces of The Arc- Jen

Jen is the first smiling face you see when you visit The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus’ administrative office. Jen came to The Arc after hearing about it from an encounter with a former Arc employee while at her last job. She has been the receptionist for The Arc since 2013. Jen says,

“It really sounded like my place of calling and was something I was immediately interested in. And I soon realized it was where I belonged!”

Since being a part of The Arc team, Jen’s eyes were opened to the large amount of people who needed assistance with daily living tasks– but still weren’t getting the support they needed. As a result, she became a self-advocate for those same people with disabilities, saying,

“I began as a public speaker at age 21 when I joined The Brad Kaminsky Foundation for brain cancer research, but began public speaking on behalf of all programs at The Arc after working here.”

Jen, who grew up with complications from a brain trauma at a young age, was misunderstood and isolated growing up. She says,

“Special Education was new in public schools and I had to continually be persistent to receive help. People with disabilities were put out of sight, out of mind.” Jen goes on to explain why advocating now is so important to her, “I can help change people’s understanding of what a disability is, and educate others about how people with disabilities want to be a part of the community too.”

Jen’s passion for The Arc stems from the fact that the campus is so welcoming. She exclaims,

“What is so unique is that The Arc is an environment of acceptance. That is something I have seldom felt in my life, but it is so alive here among the staff, the students, and the families who are a part of this [The Arc’s] community.”

Jen loves working for The Arc so much she comes to campus even after her work shift is over stating,

“Ever since I came to Paxton I’ve become very active in every social activity. I was someone who needed The Arc, who needed a Paxton Campus growing up, and it’s just so fulfilling for me to now, to go to the Next Chapter Book Club, the Speak Up group, or attend the adult dances.”

She also selflessly volunteers her time at most of the on-Campus fundraisers and events, such as Shocktober and Music at the Manor.

In the future, Jen is extremely excited about the Barns of Paxton that will soon house the Advantage Behavior Clinic and the Ability Fitness Center — all for people with disabilities. She exclaims,

“It [The Barns] will be a shuttle rocket to new orbits for Paxton’s students, families and the community affected by disability. People of all abilities will flourish!”



50 Faces of The Arc- Immanuel & Elliot

Immanuel and Elliot are adorable, loving brothers who attend Open Door Learning Center, an intentionally-inclusive preschool at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus. Since attending ODLC for the past year and a half, parents Debbie and David have seen a tremendous difference in both of their sons.

“When Immanuel first started at ODLC, he had trouble sitting at circle time, needed extensive help with transitions, and also had trouble playing with other children,” said Debbie. “Now he’s expanded his socialization and kindergarten readiness skills.”

Since being enrolled at ODLC, Elliot has also made progress in learning the basics of school schedules, behavior expectations, and was potty trained by the staff.

Furthermore, Debbie and David have also seen development in both of their children’s communication skills. Immanuel improved on expressing his feelings and desires. Before attending ODLC, the parents were also concerned about Elliot’s verbal development, he was only saying two to three word phrases. Since then they say,

“His vocabulary and enunciation have improved dramatically. Now he prattles on in full sentences.”

Both boys enjoy going to school every day because of the awesome staff. However, Elliot in particular absolutely adores the teachers and must hug each of them every day! Debbie and David love the staff too, exclaiming,

“They are all dedicated to our children’s optimal development. Each of them are incredibly supportive, caring, and are continually thinking of ways to make the program more effective for each child.”

Without ODLC, Debbie and David believe Immanuel would not be in nearly as healthy a place as he is now in terms of socialization and being comfortable and confident in a school setting. They say,

“ODLC creates a safe and supportive space for our children to grow and learn with their unique styles. The staff know how to work with our children’s specific needs, strengths, and challenges.”

They only wish more preschools would take advantage of ODLC’s expertise in non-typical issues such as behavior management, social challenges, and communication stating,

“These early and effective interventions are reducing and even eliminating the need for more serious interventions later on. The curriculum really works, and I could not be more appreciative of ODLC.” 



50 Faces of The Arc- Patrick

Patrick attended The Aurora School (a year-round school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities) for the past eight years and graduated this June. His program director, Maureen, describes Patrick as a genuinely happy student who is extremely hard working. Maureen says,

“He loves being productive, and isn’t happy if if he’s not getting something done.”

While at Aurora, Patrick’s favorite activity is sorting beads and markers by colors– which he can do all day. Maureen notes,

“Patrick is also an excellent speller, and he likes playing different crossword and wordsearch apps on his iPad.”

Patrick is so good at spelling he’s even learned how to communicate with others through writing out a word or spelling out each letter if they can’t understand him, something he learned how to do all on his own.

Throughout the years of attending Aurora, Patrick’s learned to become more flexible with abrupt changes in his schedule. He’s also learned how to take turns, like when playing board games, and has become more social with his peers. Some of Patrick’s current goals include: learning to identify whether a clothing item is acceptable to wear (if it’s clean or dirty), taking inventory of the cleaning supplies he uses, and staying on track for all his tasks (with minimal guidance from his instructors). Five times a week Patrick goes on CBI (Community Based Instruction) trips which allows him to take the skills he learns in the classroom out into the community. Patrick either goes to the yoga studio where he cleans and takes inventory, the Giant grocery store where he picks out different items from a list, or various restaurants where he is able to practice ordering food from his iPad. Maureen says,

“The support we [The Arc of Loudoun] provide through these activities significantly increases success of students like Patrick.”

Furthermore, Maureen believes The Arc is so important to the community because the staff are able to teach important life skills to students who are in an impressionable part of their lives. Maureen states,

“This campus is so unique, and we’ve become the model for what other people want to emulate.”


50 Faces of The Arc- Kyle

For the past year, Kyle has been a member of the STEP Up (Supported Training & Employment) Program at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus; a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. However, he’s been a part of The Arc of Loudoun community since 2010, when his mom, Christine, started working at the Open Door Learning Center preschool on campus. Since then, Kyle, now 21, has volunteered as an assistant teacher at ODLC and has had other miscellaneous tasks, such as data entry, for the various programs at Paxton.

Volunteering and working at The Arc of Loudoun has allowed Kyle to learn many different skills. “It’s [The Arc] helped me learn how to be responsible and I’ve gained more experience with social interaction,” he said.  By gaining these skills, Kyle was able to secure a job at Noodles & Company in Leesburg, where he takes orders as a cashier, prepares the meals, and helps the customers. One of Kyle’s passions is cooking, and he teaches his fellow STEP Up colleagues how to cook different meals three times a month. Once a month Kyle also prepares for all his meals– where makes a list of all the ingredients and materials for his dish. Kyle makes a variety of dishes, but he loves cooking Italian food which is why he’s grateful that Paxton provided him the opportunity to gain work experience in order to become an employee at Noodles & Company.

Kyle aspires to become a professional chef, and he is now able to add both his experience from conducting cooking classes through STEP UP and his job at Noodles & Company to his resume when he applies to culinary school. Kyle believes he wouldn’t be where he is now without The Arc of Loudoun stating,

“This place is really special to me. It’s helped me grow, develop, and unlock my hidden potential. No one would have an excuse to feel angry here at a place like this.”


50 Faces of The Arc- Bryce

One of the next #50FacesofTheArc is Bryce!
Bryce has been attending The Aurora School for four years. His ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) instructor, Tyrelle, has described Bryce as a gentle giant, “He’s quiet, but also very smart.” Throughout Bryce’s time at Aurora, he has improved his communication skills immensely, especially with his articulation. Tyrelle says Bryce is currently working on his personal hygiene goals and vocational skills like table setting and dish washing. “All of these skills he’s learning allows him to live a more independent life,” states Tyrelle.
While at Aurora, Bryce loves visiting the school store, playing on the swings, watching YouTube videos, and sorting through the school’s collection of DVDs. Tyrelle explains, “He [Bryce] can spend all day just looking at the covers of the DVDs and inspecting every inch of it! He’s very fascinated by them.” One of Tyrelle’s favorite things about Bryce is watching all of his progress, saying, “Bryce retains so much information. It’s amazing to see how impressionable he is, and how much he learns everyday.” Because of The Arc of Loudoun, Tyrelle believes students, like Bryce, have the chance to learn at their own pace. “I think we [staff at The Arc] do a great job of adapting to all of the different personalities of the students. We’re able to give each student exactly what they need.”

50 Faces of The Arc- Dawn

Dawn has been working at The Aurora School for more than ten years, and as a veteran staff she is the most cherished. Before becoming the receptionist at Aurora, she was an instructor at the school for seven years, where she helped students with their daily goals. Kendra, the Interim Director of  Aurora says,

“Dawn is the first smiling face you see when you come here [Aurora]! We depend on her for so many things to make our day go more smoothly. The kids love her, and we love her too!”


Dawn explains why Aurora is so important to her saying,

“It’s given me the opportunity to learn how to interact with both typical and non-typical children. Plus, before coming to Aurora I had no idea what Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy was. Everything I learned about ABA, I learned at Aurora. And now, ABA helps me with my eight-year-old niece. I now know what to say, what not to say, and how to say it.”


Working with all the students is one of Dawn’s favorite things about Aurora.

“The best thing about working here is seeing the results of children’s progress,” she says. “Some students have graduated, some have gone back to mainstream public school, or joined STEP Up.”

She has no plans to leave Aurora anytime soon exclaiming,

“I like what we do and what we stand for, and I also love the students and my co-workers! The support here is amazing, too. If somebody goes into crisis, everybody comes running, no hesitation whatsoever.”


In the next 50 years, Dawn hopes more people will know about The Arc of Loudoun stating,

“The outreach and support at The Arc is great. I just wish more people knew what a wonderful place we are and how much we help people and the community. I don’t know of any other places like us and I feel like families would probably be struggling a lot if we weren’t here. It’s really amazing to have all the various programs here on one campus, united under The Arc.”


50 Faces of The Arc- Tiara

Tiara’s radiant personality will make anybody who sees her on Paxton Campus smile. She works as the receptionist for the ALLY Advocacy Center three times a week through STEP Up  (Supported Training & Employment Program); a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. Some of Tiara’s tasks include: delivering mail on campus, greeting the guests at ALLY, making copies, and shredding papers.

Since being in STEP Up, Tiara has grown to be more independent. In fact, one of her main jobs on campus is to sell items from a mobile snack cart to the employees and bus drivers at Paxton– which she does completely alone. She restocks and organizes the snacks and drinks on the cart, which has several names including “Snax on Pax” and “Bart the Cart”, and she manages the money from the sales. Sometimes Tiara works with another member of Step Up in order to serve more customers. Tammy Goddard, ALLY program director, says

“Tiara is a great sales person – she loves to bring around the snack cart and if she knows you like a certain drink or snack, she puts it aside for you.”

Once Tiara has completed her work shift in the morning, she enjoys being social with everybody on campus. People know when Tiara is on campus because they’ll hear her greeting anybody she sees! She loves to ask people about their pets and asks how their pets are doing, because she loves animals as much as people. She usually ends the conversation by telling them to make sure that they give their pets a hug and a kiss from her.

Tiara is also very adept at making handmade cards for everybody at Paxton.

“She is a like a one-woman Hallmark store – she’s always making sure she is on top of making every single person on campus a birthday card, a get well card, or a going away card if they are leaving,” says Tammy. “She also makes a point to ask everyone who stops in ALLY what their two favorite colors are, and she draws pictures and cards for all of the new clients when they come in.”

Besides creating cards, Tiara enjoys just being able to work at Paxton, saying,

“I can’t imagine working anywhere else, being here makes me so happy!”   


50 Faces of The Arc- Tammy

Tammy first heard about The Arc of Loudoun on Paxton Campus in the Spring of 2011, after her son was diagnosed with a motor skills disability. She was advised to get an advocate, in which she researched online and found The Arc. After meeting with ALLY (A Life Like Yours) Advocacy’s past directors to discuss plans regarding her legal rights as a parent of a child with disabilities, she knew she needed to be a part of The Arc,

“It was infectious–how passionate they [the ALLY directors] were and it caught on to me! I decided then and there that I wanted to work there and be contributing to helping other families.”

Tammy initially worked at the front desk of The Aurora School, a school for students with disabilities located on Paxton Campus. She would later become ALLY’s Program Director. Tammy explains,

“The Arc became important to me because of my son, it stayed important to me because my son is just one out of the thousand people we help every year. My son did the social skills group, he goes to all the sensory sensitive movies, and the Spring Festival. My daughter volunteers with Shocktober and did siblings shops (workshop for siblings of people with disabilities). I’ve gotten IEP (Individualized Education Plan) help and gone to parent support groups here. The whole family has been helped.”

Throughout her time working for The Arc, Tammy has given back to the community through all the programs ALLY hosts.

“We help people with disabilities, but also help people in need. My favorite program is the Holiday Giving Program. Last year we helped give presents to 191 families, who would otherwise not have any gifts. It’s very rewarding!”

In the fall of 2011, Tammy created Maggie’s Closet, which provides free clothing to families in need. Maggie’s first started in a small office in one of the buildings on Paxton Campus, but expanded after just one week. Tammy exclaims,

“What I loved about it is that people just want to give! They want a reason to be excited, want a reason to help. There’s so much generosity in the community–which I hoped for, but didn’t realize until I started working here.”

Whether it’s gifting presents to those in need or creating Maggie’s Closet, Tammy is constantly looking for new and creative ways to help others through The Arc, saying

“There’s just so many different ways that people can help and be helped here. It’s the best thing about working here.” 

Her newest goal is to revamp the volunteer program for ALLY. She plans to start a mentoring program, where volunteers have an opportunity to know more of the members of The Arc and teach them new skills.

Tammy believes there’s no other organization like The Arc, stating

“Where else can you go to get help with your IEP,  watch a sensory sensitive movie, get a backpack for school supplies, and get a prom dress for your daughter? We serve so many different facets of life for people with disabilities.”

Because of this, she hopes in the next 50 years The Arc will be an example for other agencies and nonprofit to model themselves after saying,

“It’s the stuff we do, plus the amazing people we serve, plus the people that work here. It’s such a good combination.”


50 Faces of The Arc- Saul & Abe

Saul and Abe are twin brothers who’ve been attending The Aurora School, a year-round school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for the past three years. Although they look exactly alike, their personalities greatly differ. Saul is independent, and he enjoys completing tasks without any help. His Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Instructor, John, says he’s very determined,

“Once he [Saul] starts something, he needs to finish it. He likes to get everything just right.”


Abe, on the other hand, is not as much of a perfectionist as Saul. Abe’s ABA instructor, Kay, describes him as creative,

“He [Abe] likes Pinterest, colors, and playing the piano– especially the “Rugrats” theme song,” she says.


Although their personalities are different, the staff and learning style at Aurora has been able to accommodate both of the boys’ needs. Through ABA therapy, Saul and Abe are improving their communication skills. John and Kay state,

“The teaching style here [Aurora] really helps them. They now know how to talk about how they are feeling, and explain why they’re feeling a certain way.”

While at Aurora, the boys are learning vocational skills, such as washing their hands, adaptive behavior management, and identifying safety signs in the community.

John says, “Saul also loves to cook and that’s a skill he’s learning at Aurora. His favorite foods to make are french toast and pancakes!”

John and Kay explain that they enjoy working with Saul and Abe because of their goofy and lovable personalities, exclaiming,

“They love dancing and can do the ‘cha-cha slide.’ They’re both so silly and unique in their own way, which makes them so fun to be around!”

Because of schools like Aurora and the services provided by The Arc of Loudoun, kids are given the opportunity to succeed. Kay says,

“The staff know how to handle all types of behaviors here, which allows all of the students to be themselves.”


50 Faces of The Arc- Rena

Rena has been working for the Arc of Loudoun since 2007. She began as an instructor at The Aurora School, a school for children with developmental disabilities; primarily autism. Since 2011, she’s worked at the Open Door Learning Center, an intentionally inclusive preschool for children with and without disabilities, located on the Paxton Campus. When speaking about her career at The Arc, Rena becomes emotional.

“I love doing this because I know I’m helping somebody and making their life better,” she says. “I can really see the growth in children, and I see them open up and blossom–it’s a wonderful feeling…I love it!”  

Rena constantly sees changes in the children because of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. She’s experienced children who never even said “Hi”, to now interacting with their peers on the playground and initiating conversations. Her favorite thing is to see success!  She says ABA therapy changes people’s lives. And when parents tell her what a difference it makes– that’s one of the goals, knowing that it’s making a difference in people’s lives.  

“It makes me so happy!” Rena exclaims. “Moreover, knowing that the children will now be able to thrive in the community because of schools like Aurora and ODLC, it’s what keeps me motivated.”  

She hopes that The Arc will continue grow even bigger and reach out to more people.

“There are programs, but there are no programs like this,” Rena states. “I would hope in the next 50 years, The Arc expands into different school districts, different counties, and even different states! There is no limit on what The Arc can do to help the community!”


50 Faces of The Arc- Matthew

Matthew’s been described as a very dedicated employee at STEP Up, the Supported Training and Employment Program of The Arc of Loudoun that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. Before joining STEP Up, Matthew graduated from The Aurora School (a school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities ages 5-22 on Paxton Campus). After discovering Aurora, Matthew’s father Jim said he saw a tremendous difference in Matthew.

“I felt like I finally found a place with trained instructors who knew how to handle Matthew’s behavior,” he said. “Before attending Aurora, Matthew would become aggressive when he was given a demand, but now, after graduating from the school and joining STEP Up, his negative behavior has been slowly diminishing.”

Each day at Paxton, Matthew learns to be more independent. His main responsibility is cleaning the various buildings on campus, which he absolutely loves. Mary, his former STEP Up coordinator says,

“You knows he’s  [Matthew] working hard because you’ll hear the squeaking of the windows as he cleans them. He’s the best cleaner and most hard working employee you’ll ever meet. He doesn’t want to take a break until the job is done!”

With the support and training of both Aurora and STEP Up staff, Matthew was able to start working part time, where he cleans office spaces for two companies twice a week. Working as a part time employee gives Matthew more independence and freedom, which he enjoys. Matthew continues to learn more skills at STEP Up, such as time management, following lists, and increasing the duration of his work.

Sometimes while Matthew’s working, he likes to ‘script’ from game shows. (Scripting is a common occurrence among those with autism which involves repetitive reciting of lines from movies, tv shows, books, etc. and believed to be a coping mechanism). He quizzes all of The Arc office employees by asking them different questions and answers from the shows he watches. It’s like a fun game for him, and for the employees as well!  

One of Mary’s favorite things about Matthew is his affectionate gestures.

“Matthew is very sweet,” she states. “He doesn’t talk very much, but he’ll show he has a bond with you by coming over and squeezing your arms, giving you a thumbs up, or hugging you–always a highlight of my day.”

In the future, his supervisors and his dad, Jim, hope that Matthew will have a full time job where he can reach his maximum potential.



50 Faces of The Arc- Kendra

Kendra is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at The Arc of Loudoun on Paxton Campus. She has been working for The Arc for eight-and-a-half years, where she started as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist at The Aurora School, a year-round day school for children with developmental disabilities; mainly autism. She initially heard about Aurora while searching for programs for her son, Cannon, to attend. After touring the school in 2008, Kendra was immediately impressed by the ABA therapy the instructors were practicing with the students. She was so impressed, in fact, that she moved her family to Loudoun County in the hopes that Cannon could one day attend Aurora. Although Cannon, now 17, would later attend public school, Kendra would begin her career as an ABA therapist at Aurora.

Kendra’s desire to become an ABA therapist grew after seeing how effective ABA therapy was for Cannon, who has autism.

“I knew I wanted to become a therapist and help children with the same needs,” she said.  

In her duties with The Arc, she is currently Clinical Director of the Paxton Advantage Behavior Clinic and a behavior consultant to students at The Aurora School, the preschool students at Open Door Learning Center, and the employees at STEP Up (a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities).

Seeing the progress the students and employees make is one of Kendra’s absolute favorite things about working at Paxton Campus.

“Through ABA therapy, I  have seen astronomical success in students who went from not communicating at all to being able to read text, sign words, and talk vocally!” she exclaimed.

She’s also witnessed students’ severe aggressive and self-injurious behavior decrease through ABA therapy. 

Later this year, Kendra will be there for the grand opening of the Advantage Behavior Clinic on Paxton Campus. The clinic will allow people, like Cannon, who may not have had the opportunity to attend schools like Aurora the chance to still get the support they need– whether that’s learning communication or social skills. Kendra is thrilled about opening the clinic, and one of her desires is to create a wraparound approach where the staff at The Arc can work together with the public school teachers and their after school activities to practice social skills with a variety of students. In addition, she hopes through this approach everyone will know the effectiveness of ABA therapy and how it works.

Without The Arc, Kendra believes families would be at a great loss. She explains how The Arc is filling a need in the community by helping children and adults with disabilities live “a life like yours.” Programs and workshops at The Arc like CBI (Community Based Instruction) and the new Pathways to Justice Training, allow people with disabilities the opportunity to interact with community members such as bus drivers, cashiers, or police officers. These programs greatly benefit both the individuals with disabilities along with the community members as they learn to interact with each other. Kendra explains the importance of all the programs at The Arc stating,

“I wish more people knew that we are able to fulfill the gaps in the community with more volunteers and more funding. If they fund it, we can do it. We’re willing to put in the hard work, we just need the resources.”

Within the next 50 years, Kendra hopes The Arc will expand its programs all while “doing what they do best” which is helping the community.



50 Faces of The Arc- Madison

Madison is an energetic student at The Aurora School, a year-round school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In the past five years since she’s been attending Aurora, Madison has learned academic skills, along with how to connect with people–whether it be with her peers or with staff. Maggie, Madison’s Applied Behavior Analysis Instructor, says,

“All the staff here know Madison. She’s very outgoing and makes friends with everybody! She’s one spit fire of a gal.”

Throughout her time at Aurora, Madison has learned general safety skills such as reading signs (like “danger”, “exit”, and “enter”) along with learning basic household chores, like doing laundry. Madison continues to learn other skills at Aurora, like how to advocate for herself.
Some of Madison’s favorite activities at Aurora include listening to her favorite band (O.A.R), playing on the tire swings, and socializing with the staff and students. Maggie says,

“I love Madison’s charisma, and her love for life! She’s very much herself all the time and we’ve really grown to have a great friendship.”

Maggie wishes more people knew how The Arc of Loudoun and Aurora provides students with different learning styles.

“The Arc gives children so many opportunities to learn,” she says. “More people should be able to see, in person, how much growth and progress our students make.”


50 Faces of The Arc- Drew

Drew is a hard-working employee at The Arc of Loudoun on Paxton Campus. He’s been a member of the STEP Up (Supported Training & Employment) Program for two years, which is a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. He first discovered Paxton Campus after he and his mom attended the ALLY Advocacy Center’s Transition Series, a workshop that helps families with young adults with disabilities transition out of the public school system at age 22.

Drew, who has high-functioning autism, says he’s incredibly grateful for STEP Up, and is always excited to go to work every morning! He takes pride in his daily tasks, which range from changing light bulbs to mulching and mowing the 17-acre grounds of Paxton. Once his morning shift is over, Drew participates in STEP Up’s afternoon enrichment activities.

“I enjoy visits from Nic the therapy dog and taking field trips to places like the National Air and Space Museum,” he says. “But going to Top Golf is my personal favorite!”

Not only is Drew an employee at Paxton, he’s also an advocate for people with special needs. Since participating in The Arc’s self-advocacy and public speaking group Speak Up, Drew has learned how to advocate for himself. Last year, Drew and other members of Speak Up traveled to Richmond; where he had the opportunity to speak directly to state lawmakers about transportation and group homes for people with disabilities.

Drew says he’s also learned how to be safe in the community through programs like ALLY’s ‘PILE’ (Positive Interaction with Law Enforcement) initiative on campus. This program teaches law enforcement personnel how to interact and with people with disabilities. Drew explains that programs like these are one of the reasons why The Arc of Loudoun is important to him saying,

”Being here helps to keep me safe. I have special needs, I have high-functioning autism. There are a lot of people with special needs around here, and Paxton benefits the whole community!”


50 Faces of The Arc- Trish

Meet Trish Thomason, mom to 17-year-old Eric, a student at The Aurora School. Before her family moved from Colorado to Virginia, Trish researched different schools for Eric to attend, which is how she discovered The Arc of Loudoun and Aurora. Eric thrives in a smaller, inclusive, structured environment, so Aurora was the perfect fit for him. In the one and half years since Eric’s been attending Aurora, Trish has seen a huge improvement.

“His focusing and ability to do tasks has gotten much better,” she says. “He also has better self-regulation of his emotions. And he’s happy! There’s definitely been schools where he didn’t want to go at all, and that doesn’t happen now. He gets excited about different things happening at school every single day.”

Not only does Eric attend The Aurora School, he also participates in many of the events that The Arc of Loudoun on Paxon Campus holds for its members. He enjoys doing adaptive yoga, art classes, and he absolutely loves music therapy. Eric’s even volunteered at Paxton’s annual fundraising event, Shocktober. After graduating from Aurora, Trish hopes Eric will join STEP Up, a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities.

“He loves animals and wants a giraffe as a pet. I want to give him the opportunity to work with animals, even just once a week. And that can be a place that can meld his interests with something that can grow within The Arc or Paxton Campus family.”

Trish loves The Arc of Loudoun because of the people.

“The people and staff are my favorite thing!” she exclaims. “Eric doesn’t get to just deal with his staff, but with other people from different programs as well. This allows Eric, and all the students, more opportunities for a wider social network.” She says The Arc’s efforts to incorporate individuals into the community is huge. “And that’s what I like about it. I like that they’re taking steps to let our kids be involved in the community, as well as bringing the community in to appreciate what our kids do. I think that’s so important.”

Trish also believes it’s important to give back to an organization that has given her so much, which is why she volunteers once a week with STEP Up.

“Ever since Eric started, I’ve volunteered at every program he’s been at. I come whenever I have free time, it’s a way to give back to them. I think it’s important to be involved. I want my kid happy and safe and I’ll work with any program that’ll let that happen.”

In the future, Trish hopes that more people will know about The Arc.

“I need it. Everybody needs it. I don’t have to spend so much time researching what’s out there about my kid’s future. The Arc has taken so many of those steps [of researching] away from us, which allows us to spend more time with our kids.”


50 Faces of The Arc- Aidan

Aidan is an enthusiastic student at The Aurora School on Paxton Campus. His infectious laugh can often be heard resonating throughout the entire building! He’s extremely musical and is always asking when he can enjoy his favorite activity: playing his piano keyboard. However, before attending Aurora, this simple act of asking would’ve been impossible– since he could initially only communicate using three pictures. Today, after six years of instruction at Aurora, Aidan can use sign language, express his thoughts through the use of an iPad, read over 100 words, and is now learning to talk. As Aidan conquers his communication skills, he continues to learn countless new skills that will provide him the chance to thrive in the community with his peers and live a more independent life. Hailey, Aidan’s lead Applied Behavior Analyst Instructor explains the importance of Aurora,

“The Aurora School and The Arc of Loudoun provides young adults, like Aidan, the opportunity to learn and grow into their full potential. I wish more people knew about the amazing progress our students make using ABA (instructional methods), and how all of the Aurora staff are striving to provide our students with, ‘A Life Like Yours.’”



50 Faces of The Arc- Lauren

Meet Lauren. She works at Maggie’s Closet (named after the founder of Paxton Campus’ daughter, Margaret) a non-profit store located on Paxton Campus that provides free clothing and accessories for families in need. After one year of volunteering, Lauren was given the opportunity to work part-time at Maggie’s Closet through STEP Up; a program of The Arc of Loudoun on Paxton Campus that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. Maggie’s Closet accepts shoppers by appointment only and features all sizes of quality, seasonal clothing. Lauren recently began taking on more responsibility; answering phone calls, and scheduling shopping visits. She greets each shopper with a smile when they arrive for their appointments.

Lauren says working at ‘Maggie’s’ has been an amazing experience,

“I have a lot more confidence talking to people now and have become more independent. I’ve learned skills that I’ve never learned before!”

Skills such as answering the phone and interacting with customers were challenging for Lauren at first, but now she’s able to do both tasks easily. In fact, she’d love to do more public speaking. Lauren says,“I’d like to be on TV or the news. Advocating and being able to talk at The White House about Paxton would be my dream!” Lauren especially enjoys meeting all the families who shop at Maggie’s,“I love seeing them smiling. It makes me happy knowing that I’m bringing happiness to all of the people who are shopping.”

Learn more about Maggie’s Closet here: www.paxtoncampus.org/maggies-closet




50 Faces of The Arc- Masih

Meet Masih, a bright and cheerful eight-year-old student at The Aurora School. Vanessa, his lead Applied Behavior Analysis instructor, has seen tremendous growth in Masih since the beginning of the school year in September. Before coming to Aurora, Masih struggled going to new places, but now he looks forward to visiting the public library or stopping by the grocery store. He continues to learn lifelong skills at Aurora: from learning to share with others, to washing his hands independently, to allowing peers to be physically near him– now, he’s always asking for hugs! Vanessa believes it’s important for kids who are on the autism spectrum, like Masih, to have the opportunity to attend schools like Aurora that provide different learning strategies for all types of students. Vanessa is extremely proud of Masih’s progress saying,

“I enjoy knowing and working with everyone at Paxton Campus, but what an honor to work closely with Masih…the skills he learns at Aurora he will keep for a lifetime.”


VSA Art Group for Adults; Mondays: 10am-12pm

Art Group – Targeted for ages 16 and up. These fun and creative art projects are not only a great way to express yourself, but are also an interesting way to connect with peers. Artwork will be shared and discussed with the group, offering a chance to not only discover art, but also something about yourself and each other!

Location: ALLY Advocacy Center on Paxton Campus
When: Weekly Monday 10:00 – 11:00AM
Cost: $10/session ($15 for both Studio and Group)

Open Studio – Targeted for ages 16 and up. This ongoing studio session provides an artistic outlet for people just beginning to explore their interest in the visual arts as well as those who have long enjoyed painting, drawing and other art media. Participants will enjoy meeting at area art centers to do their own work at their own pace, with an instructor on hand for tips and techniques.

Location: ALLY Advocacy Center on Paxton Campus
When: Weekly Monday 10:00 – 11:00AM
Cost: $10/session ($15 for both Studio and Group)

Creative Benefits

The growing VSA arts DaVinci Art Studio provides various exciting opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy the multiple benefits of making art. The creative process can help focus, relax, express oneself, discover the world, and practice decision-making skills — the artist gets to chose, and they are always right!

While classes listed below are drop-in, please contact us at (540)338-7973 or contact Lisa Zimmer-Chu, VSA Artistic Director via LZimmerchu@vsaloudoun.org regarding your interest in order to help with planning.

Fees are nominal (please inquire if assistance is needed) and all programs include materials.

Our Instructures and Volunteers:

Lisa Zimmer-Chu, VSA Artistic Director for the Visual Arts is also the instructor for both the DaVinci Open Art Studio and DaVinci Group. She holds a BFA in Painting from Michigan State University as well as an MPS in Creative Arts Therapy from Pratt Institute in New York. She has also served on the Board of Directors and taught at the Round Hill Arts Center.


Speak Up is back!

by Jennifer Alves, Receptionist and Self-Advocate at Paxton Campus

After a long recess, SPEAK-UP! is ready to regroup and strengthen the voices of young advocates.  For the first meeting of 2016, 8 eager participants set up the ‘agenda’ and discussion rules on Tuesday, April 5th from 12pm to 1pm.

Speak Up! Public Speaking Group for Adults with Disabilities

The ALLY Advocacy Center is home-base for SPEAK-UP!   to meet on the first and third Tuesday of each month.  Members suggest we also try to group at local cafés and coffee shops.

Everything discussed at SPEAK-UP!  remains in the group.  The privacy rule makes it comfortable for members to share personal experience and/or bring up a problem they need help with.  The group will of course discuss and debate advocacy issues.  Topics include: relationships, mobility and transportation, jobs and wages, exercise and recreational activity, independent living options, and state waiver programs.

Members look forward to speaking with groups at Paxton Campus and other venues.  Most members took part in Disability Advocacy Day 2016, and enjoyed the experience of meeting with state delegates at VA’s General Assembly Building in Richmond.  More recently, members spoke to a room full of local leaders at ALLY Advocacy.

The Golden Rule is expected to be obeyed at SPEAK-UP!  Be courteous and considerate to your fellow members at all times; show respect of others feelings and opinions even when they do match your own.  Please raise your hand to speak.  Please do not chat with others when someone is talking to the group.  A member does not need to talk if they do not want to.

Melissa Heifetz mentioned an advocacy project scheduled for September.  The Loudoun Education Board will be invited to Paxton Campus to hear story’s from students with developmental challenges on what school is like or was like.


Love-ABLE Products Launch Party

Launch of Love-ABLE Product Line at Be Beauty

Leesburg, Virginia, April 11, 2016 – In recognition of Autism Awareness month, Paxton Campus and Be Beauty have partnered together for a launch party to introduce the new line of beauty and home products – Love-ABLE Products, made by the STEP Up Team, young adults with disabilities who are employees at Paxton Campus.

The Love-ABLE Product Launch Happy Hour was on Monday, April 11 from 5pm to 7pm at Be Beauty in Market Station in Leesburg.


Here are the two Love-ABLE Products that Be Beauty has started to sell in their store: Bath Fizzies and Room Deodorizer!

Love-ABLE Launch Party

“We are trying to empower young adults with disabilities, who might not be successful in another environment, to become entrepreneurs and create their own businesses with whatever interests them,” says Katie Wilcox, Program Director for the STEP Up Program.

STEP Up (Supported Training and Employment Program) provides adults with disabilities with training and meaningful employment opportunities both on-campus and in the community.  We believe that ALL adults should be involved in meaningful jobs which they enjoy and that ALL adults are capable of thriving in the workforce when provided with the right supports.

Be Beauty is Downtown Leesburg’s only custom makeup studio, with makeup, skincare, nail care products and accessories for sale.

STEP Up will be launching two products at the event: Love-ABLE Bath Fizzies and Love-ABLE Room Deodorizer.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Be Beauty for this product launch, and look forward to many more fruitful partnerships with Loudoun businesses. Be Beauty will also be hosting a ‘Spa Day’ for some women with disabilities living in Loudoun later this month,” says Jennifer Lassiter, Executive Director of Paxton Campus.

To Read the Press Release: CLICK HERE


Check out the Love-ABLE products made by the STEP Up team here: https://the-art-market-at-paxton.myshopify.com/


The Art Market at Paxton is Now ONLINE

Now you can shop The Art Market at Paxton ONLINE!

the art mar
This week the STEP Up team launched their website for The Art Market at Paxton. This art market features jewelry, magnets, candles, cards and more created entirely by students on the Paxton Campus!

The Art Market at Paxton is handled and maintained by the STEP Up team. It is one of the STEP Up teams ‘microenterprise’ businesses that is tailored to the employees’ interests and skills. Up until now you could only shop at the Paxton Attraction! Charles, a team member, created the website by himself and is processing and sending out orders with Kyle, another STEP Up member.

The launch has been a success and STEP Up is adjusting wonderfully to the new addition to their business. I ordered from the Art Market and received my order THE NEXT DAY! It is incredible how quickly and seamlessly they are adding this new element.

We hope that moving online will help us drum up more business for the beautiful artwork created by our students. The Art Market at Paxton is great for gift shopping!

Visit the Art Market at the Paxton Attraction weekday mornings or shop anytime online!

Check out some of the things we have one sale now!




Lots of things have happened on Paxton Campus over the last week. In case you missed anything… here is a Weekly Recap!



Last Saturday, Paxton Campus and 12 Band Jam teamed up to host the 8th Annual 12 Band Jam at Spanky’s Shenanigans. 12 Band Jam is a day of live music and prizes to raise money for The Aurora School.

This year we had an AWESOME, diverse lineup of bands from Americana to folk to rock n roll.

Tons of people from the Paxton family and the greater Leesburg Community came out to show their support and enjoy the day.

The weather was beautiful and everyone seemed to be having a great time! A huge THANK YOU to all the bands, volunteers and people who attended that made the day a success.


Our beloved golf cart, donated earlier this summer, was stolen off our property last week. The golf cart was used by our STEP Up team to practice driving, to deliver campus mail and to move things around the campus. The team was so excited about having their own means of transportation on campus and what doors this could open in the future.

The golf cart was discovered vandalized and inoperable across from Leesburg Elementary School.

While this was super sad news for everyone in the Paxton Family, there is a silver lining!

The Paxton Family has received overwhelming support and love from the Loudoun Community. Our Facebook post about our stolen golf cart was shared over 82 times, NBC Washington visited our campus to broadcast about the stolen golf cart and many people have made donations towards helping us buy a new one. It is so great to see that in sad times, great people can turn it around.

If you would like to donate to our Stolen Golf Cart fund: Click here!

Watch two members from STEP Up on NBC Washington sharing the story about our golf cart!


Pat from Legacy Farms and our STEP Up team member, Kyle were hard at work on Wednesday adding a fence to STEP Up’s beautiful vegetable garden. This fence will keep our future veggies safe. We already have some corn sprouting up! The STEP Up team has been hard at work watering and weeding the garden.

In a few weeks, Legacy Farms will be helping us teach a curriculum to the STEP Up team so they can learn new skills and techniques for maintaining a garden.

Thank you for all that you do, Legacy Farms!

4. 1,000 LIKES 

The Paxton Family has set a goal to reach 1,000 Likes on Facebook by September 1st. We are ONLY SEVEN likes away from our goal. We are so excited that the end is in sight and we are about to reach this milestone!

1000LIKESIf you haven’t already shared our post or invited your friends to LIKE our page, do so now and help us reach 1,000 likes by September 1st!

Tickets for Shocktober, Paxton’s biggest fundraiser of the year, go on sale THIS SATURDAY (August 15th), make sure to spread the word to your friends and family, so this year can be the biggest year YET!Instagram


DON’T FORGET! Campus will be closed the week of August 23rd for our third and final summer recess.


Jennifer Alves gets Published

Jennifer Alves, speaker, advocate, receptionist and artist, now has a new title to add to her long list, published author.

Jennifer Alves’, receptionist at Paxton Campus and Next Chapter Book Club leader, personal essay, “Hiking the Appalachian Trail”, is published in the 71st Issue of Kaleidoscope, an award-winning magazine published by United Disability Services in Akron, Ohio. Her essay was selected from more than 350 submissions to be included in the magazine.


Everyone here at Paxton is so excited and proud! WAY TO GO JEN! 

Read her beautiful piece about her journey on the Appalachian Trail!

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To see the full magazine: Kaleidoscope: Summer Musings
(Jennifer’s piece is on page 32)



A Day in the Life: STEP Up Team

The Step Up team participates in Community-Based Instruction (CBIs) to learn practical job skills and show off their talents and interests in the community. During a CBI, the team goes out into the community and does a job at a local business.

We followed a cleaning team as they set out to clean at LoCo CrossFit!

1:06Everybody piles on the bus with Swiffers, cleaning spray and paper towels in hand, ready to get started!

1:10 We’re off. The conversation swirls with talk of lunch, The Jonas Brothers and playground swings. The team talks about how much longer it’ll take to get there.

We arrive at our destination. Each Step Up members gets a different checklist of their cleaning assignments.

1:15-1:40– The team is split into pairs and we divide and conquer. Each time someone completes something, they check it off their list. We vacuum. We dust. We scrub.

Compliments and excitement can be heard as each task is complete!

“I did good!”
“Great job dusting!”
“Keep up the good work”
“I did it!”

After everything was shining and dust-free, the team even had time for a little fun!


Drew tested out some of the equipment and we got to meet the owner’s dog!


1:49– It’s time to head back to Paxton. Everybody piles back in the bus and we are on our way back to campus.

Thank you to LoCo CrossFit for being wonderful customers to work for!


Right now we have four ‘microenterprises’ launched that we provide to the community: a cleaning business, a landscaping business, office work business and an art market to sell hand-made products created by the team.

STEP Up is in the process of creating a car-washing business and grocery store delivery service.

We are always looking for community partners who may be interested in partnering with our microenterprise businesses or who are interested in hiring adults with a disability. Email Katie Wilcox kwilcox@paxtoncampus.org for more information!


Hola from Quito!

Accessibility and Inclusion for People with Disabilities in Ecuador – A Success Story

Being in a learning environment, the culture at Paxton Campus has been encouraging for many of us on staff to follow our diverse passions for learning new things. This encouragement has led me to follow a long-term dream to learn Spanish. So here I am spending the summer in Quito, Ecuador, a beautiful city high in the Andes Mountains; living with an Ecuadorian family and going to Spanish language classes everyday.

Arriving to the capital of a country roughly the size of Nevada, I was happily surprised to see curb cuts and ramps on every street crossing, the streets have crosswalks with lights and sounds directing people when they can cross. And turning on the news, one can see a person in the bottom left corner of the television screen using sign language to translate the news for those who cannot hear. How refreshing to see so much accessibility for people with disabilities in this country.

Then I hear the name, Lenin Moreno.

In the late 1990s, Lenin Moreno was in a tragic accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, but he did not let that stop him. He became a motivational speaker, and continued as a public servant until eventually in 2007, he became the Vice President of Ecuador.


Former Vice President of Ecuador Lenin Moreno Garcés in his office on March 1, 2012. (Photo Credit: Ivan Kashinsky/Americas Quarterly)

When he came into office, he made it a priority to understand the conditions of people with disabilities in Ecuador. He took a fact-finding mission around the entire country and was shocked to see some of the deplorable conditions in which people with disabilities were living.

From this investigation they created the Ecuador sin Barreras (Ecuador without Borders) program, formalizing the rights of people with disabilities and the commitment of the government to see that these policies are put into action.

Over the last few years they have delivered services, supports and supplies to those persons most in need, while they continue growing these programs to reach more (2). Three articles in the newly written Ecuadorian Constitution are specifically devoted to creating a space for equal opportunities in all elements of life for people with disabilities: education, employment, housing, medical needs and more.

Before he came into office, many people here tell me that having a disability was a stigma. Thus, many people with disabilities would stay in their homes, for lack of access to the world around them. The day that Lenin Moreno became Vice President of Ecuador, he brought into the light the lack of accessibility for people with disabilities; changed policies, infrastructure, and opened the minds of the majority of the population here.

The government passed a national law that states that companies with 25 or more employees, must employ at least 4% of those roles with people with disabilities (3). The government records are that in 2006, there were 500 people with disabilities in the workforce; and in 2014, that number has risen to over 85,000 (1). In a country where roughly 400,000 people are living with a disability, among a population of 15 million (4); this is great news.

Moreno did not run for a second term in office, but instead decided to devote his last few years to creating a foundation for people with disabilities and has traveled throughout South America and the world, spreading awareness, information and replicable lessons learned. In December of 2013, he was nominated by United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to be the UN’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility. He has impacted so many lives by leading his own with determination, grace and humor; while showing the world that nothing can stop him. Everyone who I have met says that if he were to run for President in the next elections, he would surely win!

Over the next few weeks I hope to be able to interview people with disabilities, people working in nonprofits and government agencies working on improving access and inclusion even more, and see what else I can found about how real lives have been changed by these amazing programs.

Here is a quote from Lenin Moreno, referencing the replicability of the programs, services and supports that have advanced Ecuador as a leader in Disability Rights in the world:

Solidarity—not as charity, but rather as the recognition of others as equals—is the basic pillar for initiating social inclusion. The efforts of all these actors [people with disabilities and their families] have allowed Ecuador to leave behind the years of exclusion and marginalization to which disabled people were subjected, and to integrate them now into work, education, culture, the arts, and sports. (2)

Rachel Roseberry is Paxton’s Communication Coordinator. She has traveled to South America for the summer to learn Spanish and to learn about accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities in the countries that she visits. Stay tuned for more updates from her South American sojourn.



  1. Caselli, Irene. “The Law that Empowered Ecuador’s Disabled,” Latin America & Caribbean Section, BBC News. Quito, 20 August 2013. [Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-23692217]
  2. Moreno Garces, Lenin. “Advancing Disability Rights,” part of the Heroes of Social Inclusion series, Americas Quarterly. Spring 2012. [Link: http://www.americasquarterly.org/node/3546]
  3. Scherffius, Liz. “Disability Rights Boosted in Ecuador with New Funding Plans,” Telesur 04 May 2015. [Link: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Disability-Rights-Boosted-in-Ecuador-with-New-Funding-Plans-20150504-0021.html]
  4. Telesur English. “Much to Celebrate in Ecuador on International Disability Day,” Telesur 03 December 2014. [Link: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Much-to-Celebrate-in-Ecuador-on-International-Disability-Day-20141203-0015.html]

Campus Updates

We love our BEAUTIFUL campus and a lot of exciting things have been happening on campus to keep it beautiful, create new opportunities and expand our programs.

Here is your CAMPUS UPDATE!


You may have noticed the wooden benches scattered all throughout Paxton. Our amazing volunteer, Eoin Whelan, donated these benches as part of his Eagle Scout project. These benches provide a great place for our students and employees to take a break, socialize with friends or just enjoy the outdoors!

As you can see we have been putting them to good use already! Thank you for your generosity, Eoin!


IMG_7482 copy
The large oak tree in front of ALLY will live longer and stand stronger thanks to our friends at Bartlett Tree Experts.

Two weeks ago, they visited our campus and provided a ‘Deep Root’ liquid injection of slow-release fertilizer. For those of you who are not tree experts like Bartlett, this injection slowly releases fertilizer to help reduce dead limbs, the impact of insects and diseases and increases the longevity of the oak tree.

Bartlett Tree Experts also donated and laid down mulch on campus.

We are so happy that our oak tree will continue to stand tall in the years to come and can’t thank Bartlett Tree Experts enough for donating their time and resources!


Paxton teamed up with Legacy Farms last Sunday to start our vegetable garden for the STEP Up team. This garden will provide space for STEP Up to work in the garden, harvest the vegetables and eventually sell them at the Farmer’s Market.

Great volunteers came out on Sunday to help and the results are AWESOME! The first step is done!


Paxton Campus is thrilled to be working with Legacy Farms and can’t wait for this STEP Up opportunity to develop.


Maggie’s Closet Donation Box is here!

Exciting news!

Donating to Maggie’s Closet has never been easier!

Maggie’s Closet now has a donation box.

We have a drop off box right here on our campus for clothing donations to Maggie’s Closet. There is a big, blue bin right across from Maggie’s Closet and next to the Paxton Attraction!

Maggie’s accepts charitable donations of gently-used and new clothing, and offers it to local families and individuals in need. Donations made to Maggie’s Closet are tax-deductible, as we are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

We accept clothing from baby to adult, but we especially need elementary aged children’s clothing. Currently, we have a need for hangers, unopened packs of brand new socks, underwear and t-shirts in all sizes.


Next Chapter Book Club

It’s 6:30 on Monday and chips, popcorn and water bottles are sprawled over a table in the back of Rust Library in the Story Time Room. About ten chairs are tucked in around the table, but more keep getting added as the night goes on. More members keep trickling in for the Next Chapter Book Club meeting.

IMG_7250 For those of you who don’t know, the Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) offers the opportunities for people with cognitive or developmental disabilities to read and learn together, talk about books, and make friends in a relaxed community setting.

Our NCBC usually meets on the first and third Monday of every month at Rust Library.

Right now, we are reading WHITE FANG.whitefang

White Fang is a novel by Jack London about a half-dog/ half-wolf living in Canada during the 1890’s. We are on chapter 7 and everyone is enjoying the story so far.

As everyone starts arriving, we talk about our weekends and what book we would like to start next.

Some titles like Robin Hood, Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson get thrown around. Every person is given the chance to suggest what he or she would like to read next. If you have any suggestions on what we should read next, let us know!

A little before 7, we dive into chapter 7.

First, we make sure everyone has a copy of the book and then we recap what happened last week for any member who missed the last meeting.The room grows quiet as the first reader begins. All you can hear is quiet crunching from popcorn being snacked on.

Everyone’s head is buried in the book. Some follow a long word by word with their bookmark.

*page flip* and the story continues you. The reader of the story switches from person to person around the room, everyone bringing a new voice to the story.

Some quiet and clear. Some loud and excited.

The NCBC is a no pressure environment- every member has the chance to read if they would like to but no one has to read.

IMG_7261It is inspiring to see how many members take a turn reading. All of their friends encourage them to read and stay engaged in the story the entire time.

By the time we get to Chapter 11, it is almost 8 pm. Things are not looking good for White Fang. He is in the middle of a scary but exciting fight.

We are left on a cliffhanger. What will happen to White Fang?

We will find out TONIGHT at our NCBC meeting!

If you are interested in joining us, email Tammy at tgoddard@paxtoncampus.org! Anyone at ANY reading level is welcome to join the club!

Come hear what happens to White Fang tonight at the Rust Library from 6:30-8pm.

To learn more: https://paxtoncampus.org/book-club/


Paxton Gets A Bus Stop!

Need to catch a ride from Paxton? Don’t feel like driving, but you want to attend one of our awesome, upcoming events? Now you can!

Paxton Campus is the proud owner of a bus stop! Our bus stop is located on Catoctin Circle right outside the entrance to Paxton.


The beautiful bench is thanks to our friend, Miss. Emily Burch. Emily picked the Paxton Campus as part of her Silver Award for Girl Scouts and got us this awesome bus stop bench!

Now, when you visit you can rest and enjoy some shade under the tree.
Thank you Emily Burch and Girl Scout Troop 4472! We love our bench. .

This bus stop opens up transportation opportunities for our staff here on campus, as well as the community around us. Jennifer Alves, receptionist at Paxton Campus, was so relieved and happy when Paxton received a bus stop.

“This area (Leesburg) can be really restraining for those who don’t drive.”

Jennifer uses the bus on some days to commute from work and this gives her more freedom and independence in her schedule.

This bus stop is helping Paxton Campus be more accessible to EVERYONE and we are so happy!


Check out our bus stop next time you stop by The Paxton Attraction and use it while riding Route 55!


Aurora Turns 10!



Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny Ethan, a student at the Aurora School in Leesburg for children with autism, climbs up the inflatable cake that was part of the school's 10th anniversary celebration July 12. Former Washington Redskins player Marcus Washington was a special guest and signed autographs.

Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Ethan, a student at the Aurora School in Leesburg for children with autism, climbs up the inflatable cake that was part of the school’s 10th anniversary celebration July 12. Former Washington Redskins player Marcus Washington was a special guest and signed autographs.

Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny Former Washington Redskins player Marcus Washington, left, signs his autograph for a 12-year-old student at the Aurora School in Leesburg for children with autism along with her teacher, applied behavior analysis therapist Hillary Mazur, during the school's 10th anniversary celebration July 12.

Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Former Washington Redskins player Marcus Washington, left, signs his autograph for a 12-year-old student at the Aurora School in Leesburg for children with autism along with her teacher, applied behavior analysis therapist Hillary Mazur, during the school’s 10th anniversary celebration July 12.


On Friday, July 12th, at 1:00pm, Paxton Campus’ The Aurora School celebrated its 10th year anniversary.

Ten years ago, The Aurora School was founded by parents in cooperation with The Arc of Loudoun. Aurora started as a very small school with only 3 students in Purcellville and now has grown to 30 students and 42 highly qualified staff, and this year we are hoping to grow even bigger!

In 2009, The Aurora School moved to the Paxton Campus in Leesburg and has been growing and thriving more each year. There to help celebrate the school’s birthday was Special Guest, Marcus Washington of the Washington Redskins.

The Aurora School is a caring, educational community that offers a quality education for individuals with special needs, primarily students with autism. We provide a progressive learning environment that serves individuals with intellectual disabilities, ages 5 to 22. Using the latest techniques, curricula, and technology, students and their families become active partners in their individualized education program. We challenge our students to achieve personal excellence and independence and offer a wide variety of special education programs. Our curricula and activities are made to meet the individual student’s needs. Among the skills we teach our students are: Verbal behavior; Academic literacy; Reading; Social skills; Self-management; and Problem solving skills.

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Paxton Campus creates a butterfly garden!


time series

Here is a time series of photos taken on the morning that we created a butterfly-shaped Monarch Waystation, at Paxton Campus in Leesburg Virginia.

On Saturday, June 22nd, Paxton staff and volunteers from our community created a butterfly-shaped Monarch Waystation. *The time series of photos above show the steps taken to create our garden.

With generous donations of native plants (milkweed and nectar plants for monarchs and other pollinators) from Earth Sangha and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC); advice from Ann Garvey of the LWC’s program on habitat restoration; and the hard work and determination of 15 creative and enthusiastic volunteers. We want to thank you all for the support!

This garden will not only help host the monarchs through this leg of their journey, it will also serve to bring a natural sensory experience to our students, both at Open Door Learning Center, our preschool and kindergarten program; as well as students from The Aurora School, our school for children and young adults with autism and other related disabilities.

Though this project is not 100% completed, we were able to do the most important step, get the plants in the ground to flourish and bring the butterflies to our campus!


Jennifer Lassiter, Executive Director of Paxton Campus, Nominated for Leesburg Business Award!

2013 Leesburg Business Award Nominees Announced

Press Release adapted from The Town of Leesburg’s Press Release on 5/2/2013

The Town of Leesburg is pleased to announce the nominees for the 12th Annual Leesburg Business Awards.

Leesburg, VA (May 2, 2013) – The Town has received nominations for outstanding businesses and individuals in ten award categories. The annual Leesburg Business Awards Event is the premier business event in the community. It celebrates the Leesburg business community and specifically the independent business owners who are the backbone of our community and our nation’s economy.

Congratulations to all of the 2013 Nominees.


The George C. Marshall Award Nominees: 

• Grandmaster Eung Gil Choi

• Joanna Costin

• Tina Johnson

• Patrick Kaler

• Jennifer Lassiter

• Paul Reimers

• Robert White

Ambassador Award Nominees:

• ProJet Aviation

• Visit Loudoun

Environmental Award Nominees:

• Chick-fil-A

• Fryer Pro, LLC

• Pong Research

Community Steward Award Nominees:

• Capital Computers & Networks, Inc.

• Jersey Mike’s Subs

• Knight Solutions

• Loudoun Chapter of the NAACP

New Business Award Nominees:


• Avie Medspa and Laser Center

• Barahona & Associates

• King Pinz

• King Street Coffee

• L Gifts & Home Furnishings, LLC

• MacDowell Brew Kitchen

• Steam 360, LLC

Innovations Award Nominees:

• Gravy

• K2M, Inc.

• Mason Enterprise Center

• Omnilert

• Pong Research

• PR Construction

• Terreno Organics

 Home-Based Business Award Nominees:


• Miles LeHane Companies

• Steam 360, LLC

Heritage Award Nominees:

• Ellisdale Construction

• Norris House Inn

• Tally Ho Theatre

• St. John the Apostle Catholic Church

Veterans Affairs Award Nominees:

• DB4 Consulting

• Knight Solutions

• Strong Castle

Public Art Award Nominees:

• County of Loudoun Administration Building (Public Art Display)

• Friends of Leesburg Public Art

• Loudoun Symphony

The Rising Star award celebrates a Leesburg business which has been in operation for less than one year and has set itself apart from other businesses through its exemplary achievements. The recipient of this award will be chosen by the Leesburg Economic Development Commission.

Rising Star Award Nominees:

• Chimole

• CycleLuv

• Dance King Studio

• Events in the City

• Happy Soul Yoga

• Melt Gourmet Cheeseburgers

• The Jeans Whisperer

• The Q Company

• Voodoo Lunchbox

To be eligible for nomination for a Leesburg Business Award, businesses and organizations must be primarily physically located within the corporate limits of the Town of Leesburg. Persons nominated for the George C. Marshall Award are not required to reside within the Town limits.

“The businesses and individuals nominated for the 2013 Leesburg Business Awards represent our community’s best loved, most innovative and exciting owners, operators and enterprises,” commented Jim Sisley, Chair of the Leesburg Economic Development Commission. “Beyond merely running or owning a business, these people have chosen to make a positive contribution to our quality of life in Leesburg.”

Nominees and award recipients will be recognized at the 12th Annual Business Awards Event on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at ProJet Aviation at the Leesburg Executive Airport. Please RSVP your attendance by contacting Tara Belote at tbelote@leesburgva.gov or on our website at www.leesburgva.gov/BusinessAwardsRSVP. Businesses that have been operating for 25 years or more will also be recognized at the reception as Leesburg’s Legacy Businesses.


Doug Parsons
Business Development Manager

# # #


Self-Advocate Finds Employment, Energy and Excitement at Paxton!

One of the things that we have tried really hard to do over the last three years at The Arc of Loudoun on the Paxton Campus is to fill in the gaps where services and opportunities are lacking for adults and children with disabilities.  One area that we have identified as an opportunity for us to embrace is in providing adults with disabilities a real, meaningful and enjoyable work experience.  This spring we have hired three adults with disabilities (Self-Advocates) to work on the Campus in various capacities and it has been a wonderful experience for them and for the rest of our staff!  One of our employees, Turhan Inetas, has especially touched our hearts.

Turhan is a young man that began working for the Campus in March.  He is an adult with a traumatic brain injury that was caused by two brain surgeries for brain cancer, and then a resulting stroke after the surgeries.  His first language is Turkish, and combined with his disability, understanding receptive language (especially English) is difficult.  Thankfully, Turhan is not shy to tell us if we are talking too fast, or if he doesn’t understand what we are trying to communicate.  He is eager, and he carries his Turkish to English dictionary with him everywhere.  He is even studying to learn to drive and get a driver’s license.

He was originally hired to work in Maggie’s Closet, our free “store” for families in need.  He washes all of the clothing that is donated, sorts it and hangs it by size for customers to shop.  He comes to us with an enthusiasm for work that we’ve never seen before, and performs each task with joy and a huge smile.  His job has expanded to include manning our convenience store, The Paxton Attraction, each morning, where he sells coffee from 8:30am to 9:30am each day.  His pride in being in-charge of the store each day is obvious and he makes all of us smile…you can’t NOT smile when around Turhan.


When asked about his work here, he said that his life was sad before he found us.  He said he had low energy and didn’t want to do much during the day.  But, he explained that when he started working here, he realized that if you “have love, you have excitement and joy for that love.”  And he found love here, at Paxton Campus.  He has a love of his work, and our community; and it allows him to have energy to go throughout the day.  He said, “All you have to do is find your love….and I found it here!”

And, we LOVE that he loves it here…We feel so fortunate that he is here each day to greet us with his smile and remind us all why we do this work.

Feel free to visit him at our Paxton Attraction convenience store, any weekday morning from 8:30am to 9:30am for great coffee and even better company!

Blog Post Written by Darcy Cunningham. 


Town of Leesburg’s Proclamation: Autism Awareness Month!

Here is Jennifer Lassiter, our Executive Director at Paxton Campus, speaking about Autism and the challenges faced by people who have Autism and their families.  She spoke in front of Leesburg’s Town Council on April 9th and received a Proclamation from Mayor Kristen Umstattd and the other members of Leesburg’s Town Council.

The proclamation states: Autism Awareness Month is a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community.

Thank you Town of Leesburg and our supportive Town Council Members!


The ABC’s of Applied Behavior Analysis

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we are doing a special set of blog posts here at Paxton Campus!  It’s an exciting time of the year for us, seeing places all over the world “light it up blue” to show support and spread awareness for some of the students we are fortunate enough to serve every day.  Check back later this month for more great posts in honor of Autism Awareness!

Here at The Aurora School, we use the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to serve our clients needs. Applied Behavior Analysis (or ABA) is a science devoted to the understanding and improvement of human behavior.

Or, as I like to put it, we make data-driven decisions to drastically improve our students’ lives. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, we think ABA is just too good to keep to ourselves! ABA can be used to help people with special needs, but it can also be used to change the behavior of your spouse (wouldn’t it be great if your husband would finally take out the trash without being asked?), your friends, your co-workers, your in-laws (!!!) and even your own behavior! We believe that behavior is observable and measurable, and that behavior can be altered by changing what’s happening in the environment. We want to share this knowledge with everyone in the community, starting with the basics: The ABC’s of ABA!

A stands for antecedents. In other words, what’s happening right before the behavior of interest? Let’s use the example of a child who talks out in class. Was work presented? Did you turn away? What were other peers doing? The antecedents can be a huge part of the puzzle when you’re trying to figure out why someone is behaving in a certain way.

B stands for behavior. Here, you’ll note what behavior is occurring. From the previous example, talking out would be the behavior.

C stands for Consequences. The consequence is whatever happens immediately after a behavior. Did you ignore the child? Did you scold the child? Did you take away the work? Did other peers talk to the child? Any of these elements can help you figure out WHY the child is talking out… and, therefore, how you can fix it.

So, now that we know the ABC’s, let’s look at a few examples of how changing the environment can change behavior:

Example 1: During class, a teacher is presenting. Jack continues to talk to his classmate, Joe, even though the teacher is trying to teach. Everyone else in the class is paying attention. ?!

Antecedent: Teacher presenting.

Behavior: Jack talking.

Consequence: Joe listens and responds. The teacher turns around and scolds Jack.

*In this example, Jack received no attention from the teacher until he began talking. Let’s look at what can happen with a few small changes:

The teacher decided to move Joe to the other side of the room.

A: The teacher presents to the class.

B: Jack begins to talk.

C: No peers respond (since his friend, Joe, is too far away), and the teacher ignores Jack and continues to teach.

In this example, Jack receives absolutely no attention. Therefore, it is safe to assume that his motivation for talking out is gone!

Example 2: Whenever I see a bag of chips, I stop and eat the whole thing! (Seriously, it’s like an addiction!)

A: I see the bag of chips in my pantry.

B: I eat the whole bag.

C: The chips taste delicious! But I know this wasn’t a healthy choice.

This problem could easily be remedied through an antecedent strategy. You guessed it… don’t buy chips. BUT, chips are my roommate’s favorite food, so that’s not an option for me. Let’s look at a different way I could remedy this problem by changing my environment.

A: I put a visual representation of my fitness goals next to the chips in the pantry. Some people choose pictures of themselves, others may write a specific weight goal, or still others may choose a calorie goal.

B: I go to get chips and I see the visual. I decide not to eat the chips.

C: I put a dollar in my “good decision” jar, which can be cashed in for new clothes every week!

By changing the environment and adding a reinforcing consequence for a good decision, I have changed a bad habit!

Example 3: A young child with autism tantrums whenever he’s transitioning, even if he enjoys the place he is going.

A: Mom says, “Time to go to the store. Let’s get in the car!” and begins to have her son put on his shoes.

B: The child falls to the floor, crying and screaming.

C: After spending several minutes trying to convince the child to come, the mom finally has to leave her son with a caregiver so she can get the chores done in time for dinner.

Children with autism often have difficulties with transitions. Using ABA methods, we help our students ease into transitions with a few simple manipulations of the environment.

A: At the beginning of the day, the mom shows her son a visual schedule of the day’s activities. This schedule has both a visual image and a written image. This time, before going to the store, the mother shows her son the visual schedule showing that the store is the next place on his schedule.

B: The child puts on his shoes and walks out the door

C: The mother gives her son his favorite toy to play with once he has successfully transitioned to the car.

By showing her son what to expect throughout the day, the mother decreased his anxiety about transitions. Further, she reinforced his successful transition! Now, transitions are fun and exciting!

So there it is, the basics of ABA, in ABC format! Throughout the week, try to be aware of the ABC’s happening in your environment. These strategies can make a huge impact on your work, family, and relationship with friends.

I leave you now with one of my favorite quotes, “That there could be a science of behavior, of what we do, of who we are? How could you resist that?!”—Donald Bear.

Check back every week to learn more about ABA, The Aurora School, and Paxton Campus because… how could you resist that?!


Blog Post Written by Katie Wilcox, M.A.



Welcome to The Arc of Loudoun at the Paxton Campus!

Our programs are located on the historic Paxton Campus in Leesburg, VA, a property with a long history of serving children and families in need.   In 1922, Rachel Paxton had a vision:  She wanted her incredible home and property to serve and benefit needy children.  She created the Margaret Paxton Memorial for Convalescent Children, in honor of her deceased daughter.  Over the years, the property has served as a convalescent center, an orphanage and a day care center.  In 1967, a group of parents with children with disabilities also had a vision: They formed The Arc of Loudoun, a 501(c)3 organization, to start a preschool to serve their children when no one else would.  In 2009, these visions united, forming The Paxton Campus, which has grown into a full service organization with multiple programs that create an innovative learning environment for children of ALL abilities so that they may THRIVE in the community.