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Communication Board Installed at Kelly Elementary School Playground

WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange Special Education Parent Advisory Council (WOSEPAC) presented Kelly Elementary School with a Communication board, installed in the playground and officially unveiled on Dec. 1.

Members of the WOSEPAC Leadership Team, Kelly Principal David Marion, Superintendent Hayden Moore, Mayor Susan McCartney, Board President Brian Rock, Special Education Supervisor Dawn Ribeiro, Acting Director of Special Services Connie Salimbeno, Council President Tammy Williams, teachers, and members of the Kelly community were present for the event.

The board mirrors a PEC (Picture Exchange Communication System) developed in 1985 for the Delaware Autism Program. The developers found that by providing a series of pictures to non-verbal students, the students were able to initiate social interaction. The new board at Kelly looks like the PEC boards used in special education classes and are therefore easily recognizable by special needs students. Students are able to point to pictures that directly relate to an action, emotion, or object. The Kelly board features pictures in English on one side, and Spanish on the other.

Kelly Elementary, which houses several special needs students, was chosen as the site of the first-of-its-kind in West Orange communications board thanks to Special Needs teacher Colleen Horan, who approached WOSEPAC with the idea in 2021.

“Our goal is to install boards at all West Orange elementary school playgrounds as well as each public playground in our community,” said WOSEPAC chair Gina Velazquez.

“Our dream is to develop legislation that will allow boards to be placed in all public playgrounds in Essex County, New Jersey, and nationally!” she added.

“This project was a collaborative effort by WOSEPAC and the West Orange Public Schools,” Velazquez continued.

“The WOSEPAC Leadership Team fundraised, led meetings, brainstormed the board details to include the diversity of West Orange, and even where to place the board," she explained.

The Communication Board fosters communication, promotes inclusion, raises public special education awareness, enhances social interactions, insures linguistic accessibility, reduces the stress and anxiety of verbal communication, and creates learning opportunities for all children.  

The cost of the Communications Board was $1,100 and was installed by a district maintenance crew.

WOSEPAC is actively seeking sponsors so that Communications Boards can be installed in the remaining six West Orange elementary schools. The sponsor’s name will be added to board.

“We believe that once our community realizes the benefits of the communication boards and their reasonable price, we will see our goal of having boards installed at all elementary schools by Fall 2024. We thank you in advance for your support and generosity to help us make West Orange a more inclusive environment for all," Velazquez concluded.

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Kelly Board

Special Education Supervisor Dawn Ribeiro, Acting Director of Special Services Connie Salimbeno, BOE President Brian Rock, WO Superintendent Hayden Moore, WOSEPAC Chair Gina Velazquez, WOSEPAC Leadership Team members Richera Jones, Ysaura Fernandez, Kelly School Principal David Marion

Kelly Board

(L-R) Kelly parent, Mayor McCartney, Ryan Stanley, Gina Fondetto, Kelly PTA President, Oceanna George, Richera Jones, Steve Davenport, Gina Velazquez, Ysaura Fernandez, Colleen Horan, Connie Salimbeno, Council President Tammy Williams, Dawn Ribeiro, teacher, BOE President Brian Rock, David Marion, Cynthia Bailey, Superintendent Hayden Moore
English side

Communications Board - English Side

Cynthia Cumming
Dec. 4, 2023