Renovations continue at the center, which opened in its new home Jan. 2.
By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- Workers with the Northeast Ohio Special Education Regional Resource Center are settling into their new digs.
The center, one of 16 in the state, has moved from the former St. Joseph Hospital building in Warren to offices in the Eastwood Mall -- near Dillard's in space formerly occupied by a bank and a beauty salon.
In operation more than 20 years, the center serves as a resource outlet and lending library for teachers, administrators and parents of children with learning disabilities.
Jeff Lawson, executive director for the center, said employees and materials from the center focus on the technicalities of educating a child with disabilities, including learning, hearing and physical limitations.
"We work through the Ohio Department of Education and, basically, our business is training administrators, teachers, parents, anyone with an interest in learning how to teach kids with disabilities," he said.
Resources at the center include instructional materials such as prop boxes, specialized catalogs and textbooks and technological resources such as computer software and modified computer terminals with touchscreens.
The center's 10-person staff -- which includes special education teachers, a school psychologist and a speech/language pathologist -- work with children 3 to 21 who have been identified using federal guidelines as qualifying for the center's services.
Identifying qualified children could start with something as simple as a child's having difficulties in school, and then a team of educators, parents and other trained individuals will conduct assessment tests.
The NEOSERRC staff works with Trumbull County's Help Me Grow program to identify at-risk children, while others work with teachers and administrators in the schools systems to identify older children in need.
Lawson said pupils can either the services and materials at the center, or lending libraries can provide materials to their home schools.
"We use a courier service that takes materials to all the schools," he said.
The lending libraries provide everything from textbooks and manuals, to educational toys and technology aids free of charge.
"Instead of school systems' spending thousands of dollars for something that may not work for them, they can come here and try it out first," Lawson said.
As workers continue to unpack from the move, renovations on the space that formerly housed a bank and a beauty salon continue. Lawson said workers are installing computer hookups and video conferencing systems that feature projectors and movie screens to allow the local resource center to work with other sites throughout the state, as well as its sister sites in Mahoning and Ashtabula counties.
As for the move to the mall, Gregg McCort, director of marketing for The Cafaro Company, which owns and operates the Eastwood Mall, said it's a great move for the shopping center and the community.
"It gives people another reason to use the mall other than for just retail," he said.
For more information on NEOSERRC and its services, call (800) 776-8298, or check the Web site at www.neoserrc.k12.oh.us