Neighbors in the News: CLA seventh grader receives assistive technology award

• Maria Pichon-Gomez, a seventh grade student at John G. Conyers Learning Academy (CLA), Rolling Meadows, received the 2023 Infinitec North Technology Achievement Award, which honors students who excel in their use of assistive technology.

Maria is in the Multiple Needs Program at CLA and is a wiz at using her device throughout the day. She is frequently asking staff to add words to her device to support her growing vocabulary and special interests like science, doctors and TV shows.

Recently, the entire CLA school came out to celebrate Maria with a parade. That night, Maria, her family, her educational team, and CLA administrators joined her at the Infinitec Award Ceremony held at the Cotillion Banquet Hall in Palatine.

Once a year, the Infinitec Coalition recognizes 12 students who excel using assistive technology to access curriculum and demonstrate functional independence at school. Infinitec, which stands for infinite potential through technology, is the technology program of UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago. The mission of Infinitec is to advance independence and promote inclusive opportunities for children and adults with disabilities through technology.

Astrid Rodrigues, left, will join Community Consolidated School District 21 as director of teaching and learning for science and social studies. Julie Brash, right, will join the district as assistant principal at Field Elementary School. Courtesy of Andrew Steckling/District 21

• Community Consolidates School District 21 has appointed Astrid Rodrigues as its new director of teaching and learning for science and social studies.

Rodrigues will join the district on July 1 in the director role, succeeding Chris Lapetino, who will shift to director of student enrichment and support.

Rodrigues previously served as the principal of Americana Elementary School in Queen Bee School District 16 in Glendale Heights for the past five years.

In recommending her approval, district administration noted Rodrigues is a "student-centered leader who is very passionate about learning. Her expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education also made her a strong candidate for the position."

Additionally, Julie Brash is set to join Field Elementary School as assistant principal, effective July 1. She previously served as an instructional coach in Gurnee District 56.

District administration said Brash is "well-versed in curriculum planning due to her teaching experience and coaching role."

Kelly Bye, chief executive officer at Virginia Abrasives Corp., and subsidiary Johnson Abrasives. Courtesy of Carol Crittendon

• Round Lake resident Kelly Bye was appointed chief executive officer at Virginia Abrasives Corp., and subsidiary Johnson Abrasives.

Bye, who brings extensive manufacturing experience, previously worked at Benjamin Moore & Company for four years and spent 26 years with Rust-Oleum Corporation, both in the Chicago area.

"I'm very excited to be joining this growing and dynamic team," Bye said. "The company is renowned for its top-notch customer experience, from the first contact through to the way they stand behind their products, and I am looking forward to strategically planning the future of the company," he added.

Bye will be based at Virginia Abrasives' world headquarters in Petersburg, Virginia, and will be relocating to that region.

• Connor Clark of Lake Bluff, a junior majoring in broadcasting, and sports media and communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has earned a 2023 Eric Sevareid Award for exceptional work in broadcast journalism. The awards ceremony took place earlier this month in Minneapolis.

Clark earned an award of merit in Student Market Radio in the Sports Play-by-Play category for "UNL vs. Boston College Men's Hoops."

The Eric Sevareid Award, named after the legendary journalist who worked for CBS Radio and Television, celebrates excellence in journalism in the Midwest. The awards are presented annually by the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association and judged by a panel of distinguished journalists and educators from outside the six-state region to ensure fairness.

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