Dear Marie Wright and ACE Mentor Program,
What a privilege it was to work with such a wonderful group of young high school students from Pottsgrove (and one from Spring-Ford!) through ACE Mentor Program of Eastern Pa! As a Special Education Teacher, I never would have imagined being a part of a group like this. However, I feel very blessed that I was.
I felt somewhat awkward accompanying my son for his first meeting. I did not want to stigmatize him. However, given his special needs, I wanted to make sure that he would be able to find a niche in this group. Imagine my surprise when you asked me to join the group! I hesitated at first. I was afraid the other students would exclude Philip. To my delight, not only did that not happen, they seemed to accept me as a part of the group as well- not as "mom," but as a contributor! I was impressed at how well Philip was accepted. Because of some of his odd behaviors, people tend to think that he is cognitively challenged. They will often talk down to him. And, they seem genuinely surprised when they find out how intelligent he really is. Philip was never talked down to in this group. When he contributed, he was treated as any other member of the group. And if he were stressed and paced the back of the room, they did not seem to notice.
I think you deserve a lot of credit for that. Not only are you such a warm and caring person, but you exemplify the qualities of a great leader. You lead by example. The students learned a lot about working in ACE careers. But, more importantly, they learned to work as a team. They learned to collaborate with professionals from varying specialty areas. You and the other mentors were excellent role models in work ethics as well. The students learned that it is not enough to just get the job done. They needed to take ownership of their project. They learned to create something that they were proud to put their names on and claim as theirs.
I congratulate you, Worth and Company, and the other mentors and their employees. Whether or not my son chooses to pursue a career in engineering, he learned valuable skills that he will carry with him no matter what he chooses to do.
It seems that a lot of people on the autism spectrum are drawn to ACE type careers. Sometimes it takes a lot to work through the communication issues. But, often because of the abilities to focus on a concentrated special interest, they can excel at what they do, given the chance. With that in mind, if ever I can be of any assistance to you in the future, please let me know.
Thank you again for including me. It was a joy and an honor to be a part of your group. - Billie Hoch
My son's involvement with the ACE Mentor program has been invaluable. While learning the fundamentals of architecture, construction and engineering, he and his team worked closely with their mentors on environmental sustainability projects that are relevant to the future of New York City and to urban areas elsewhere. His mentors have engaged him in a way that has increased his interest in engineering, and shown him how these skills can be applied in real-life settings. ACE has influenced his career plans, and the choice of colleges to which he is now applying. ACE also has given him a network of both professionals and fellow students he can follow into college and beyond. Our son is fortunate to have been involved with ACE. -- Thom Duffy, parent of an ACE student
"As a 'first-time' parent of ACE, I was very delighted with the experience my son, Dylan, gained through his first experience in the ACE Program. Aside from getting to test his desire for engineering and design, he learned other valuable skills that he will utilize in any management position throughout his career.
The most important skill I observed him develop week after week was Project Management. Week after week I watched as he encountered issues with individual effort and scheduling within the team, internal conflict, scheduling of resources, managing task effort and duration to ensure deadlines, etc. I could go on and on but suffice it to say he obtained valuable skills beyond that of engineering.
I was extremely proud to watch my 15-year-old son take such initiative and responsibility when he started to realize that the team was not going to complete their presentation on time if they didn’t put it extra time to accomplish the goal. It was a pleasure to watch them take ownership of, and pride in, their assigned task and put in such extra effort to complete it – to the best of their ability.
So I consider the ACE experience a positive experience for me as well – it allowed me to see my son start to assume roles and responsibilities that he will use in almost any career – to a level that will ultimately bring him success. These young adults have received a wonderful ‘jump-start’ to a future career.
Thanks to all of those involved in the ACE program for giving young adults such an opportunity. A very special thanks to the Mentors who take valuable time out of their work day to volunteer their efforts and experience to the next generation of professionals." -- Justin T. Lahman, President/CEO, AXIS GeoSpatial Companies (Easton, MD)
As I near my last day as Principal of Saint Michaels Middle/High School, I wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation to everyone associated with the ACE Program. It is a very powerful educational experience for our students who have the opportunity to work with dedicated professionals. In my 38 years as a professional educator, the ACE Program was one of the most powerful programs to influence the present efforts and future decisions of school age children! I have enjoyed my association with all of you and hope the program continues to grow and serve our children!!!! — Frank Hagen, Retiring Principal, St. Michael's High School (Easton, MD)