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Marymount University has been named recipient of the 2015 Jessica Burmester Volunteer Award from The Arc of Northern Virginia, for the school’s support of a series of workshops that help students with intellectual and developmental disabilities transition from high school. 

The award was presented at The Arc’s annual membership meeting at the Columbus Club of Arlington.

“With their incredible support, we have been able to provide almost 150 families with valuable programs for both parents and students,” said Diane Monnig, The Arc’s transition manager. “We would never be able to offer such a successful program without the staff and students at Marymount.”

The award was accepted by Dr. Lois Stover, Marymount’s School of Education and Human Services dean, and Dr. Clara Hauth, assistant professor of Special Education.

The organization concluded the second year of its Transition Series on Saturday at Marymount’s main campus.

“It’s an important time in the life of a person with an intellectual or developmental disability,” said Rikki Epstein, executive director of The Arc of Northern Virginia. “For a lot of families, it feels like falling off a cliff. The transition series is a chance to share a huge amount of information on housing, employment and other kinds of things.”

The full-day workshops were held monthly from September to November. Parental topics included special needs trusts, Medicaid Waivers, public benefits, employment, post-secondary options and transportation. The student track, for ages 14-26, offers a variety of skill-building activities, such as social and life skills, employment and travel training.

Hauth said Marymount education students practice skills such as lesson planning and teach practical things, like how to ride the Metro.

“It’s a great way for our students to be involved in the community, and many of them have said it’s been a life-altering experience,” Hauth said. “Our students are learning just as much as the families and their students. It’s all part of Marymount’s commitment to community engagement and outreach.”

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