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Nektaria Glinou: 'The Bridge Program' for Adolescents with Disabilities

Nektaria Glinou has been teaching children and adults with a wide range of disabilities in the public and private sector in New York City for the past four years.  After emigrating from Greece to the U.S. in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in psychology, she started to work for the Young Adults Institute, which serves people with disabilities.

While she was at the Institute, Glinou was involved in pre-vocational training. She later went on to work with pre-schoolers with disabilities at the New York League for Early Learning. Glinou also worked on the Prevention and Empowerment Project, a national federal grant that deals with decision making and substance abuse prevention for female adolescents with disabilities.

In 1997, when she received her master's degree in Special Education at TC , she was recruited as a full-time inclusion consultant on a research project that was supervised and mentored by Dr. Gay Culverhouse, a TC Trustee and an adjunct assistant professor of Special Education. At the time, Culverhouse was the Executive Director of the Cooke Center for Learning and Development. Glinou was charged with developing Cooke's "Bridge Program," which is a transition project designed to build self-determination for adolescents with Down and Fragile X-Syndrome. The adolescents work part time in jobs of their own choice, practice travel and vocational training skills in realistic settings and receive support and career counseling from a job coach.

Glinou says, "It serves as a transition from school to work and from school to independent living."

"The setting is apartment-like. Part of the day the students work. They also attend classes during the day and use the apartment to learn daily living skills and become involved with community work."

Glinou adds, "After a year, I decided that I really wanted to go ahead with my studies and use my experience in the field to learn more about transition training and special education. I came back to TC because this is the place where it happens."

Glinou was recently nominated by Culverhouse for the New York State Council for Exceptional Children Teaching in Excellence Award for 1998, based on the success of the Bridge Program. Founded at Teachers College 76 years ago, the Council is a national association of all special education related professionals, and is one of the most respected organizations of its kind in the country.

Glinou is now working with Linda Hickson, Director of the Center for Outcomes and Opportunities for People with Disabilities, on an upcoming February conference, When Worlds Collide: Choices and Possibilities for People with Disabilities. As Conference Coordinator, Glinou is working with Hickson and the Center's advisory board on arranging the speakers and marketing materials for the conference.

Glinou is excited about the two-day conference at TC on February 26-27. It will provide a forum for voices from a variety of perspectives who will focus on pressing issues affecting the lives of people with disabilities. The conference will specifically address: who is really learning disabled; understanding substance abuse issues in individuals with disabilities; and distance learning: the future of special education? (For more information about the conference dial x3987)

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