Marianne was a powerful advocate and compassionate educator, implementing programs and services to meet the evolving needs of children with special needs and their families. In her own formidable way, Marianne built the Children’s Education Center’s programs from the ground up, always placing the needs of the child in the center of her work.
Marianne joined AHRC Nassau in 1968. Since 1988, Marianne led the educational programs under AHRC Nassau, which expanded into the organization that came to be known as Brookville Center for Children’s Services. Under her leadership, educational services grew from six classrooms in the Children’s Education Center supporting 100 children to more than 1,000 children with nearly 650 staff and schools in Brookville, Westbury, New Hyde Park and Woodbury, as well as the children’s residential program (CRP) in Lido Beach.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her memory to:
Marianne’s legacy at AHRC Nassau and BCCS will never be forgotten. We are pleased to share with you a story created with Marianne in honor of her 50+ years of dedication to her students with the BCCS 2019 Reach for the Stars achievement award:
Special Education Leader Marianne Klotz Honored for 50+ Years of Outstanding Service
BROOKVILLE, N.Y., March 18, 2019 — When Senior Director Marianne Klotz walks through the halls of Brookville Center for Children’s Services (BCCS), she often holds a heavy, silver key in her hand. It’s a key once used on the doors of a state institution, where children with special needs were locked in empty rooms, without hope of education or a future of their choosing.
For Marianne, the key is a reminder of how important a day’s work can be.
“I hold it and I remember. If it’s not in my hand, it stays in my pocketbook at all times as a reminder of what was and where we are today,” said Marianne. “Every child deserves the time and attention to be seen and heard. For children with developmental disabilities and delays, it’s about learning their language and perspective, then beginning to build skills to connect them to a bigger world.”
For her colleagues, the key is a reminder of what one person can accomplish.
“For more than 50 years, Marianne has worked to ensure that children with developmental disabilities are fully engaged with the world around them and prepared to meet their full potential,” said Stanfort Perry, executive director of AHRC Nassau. “Honoring her 50+ years of excellence at what was once known as the AHRC Children’s Training Center, and now Brookville Center for Children’s Services, is recognition for the important work she tirelessly continues day in and out.”
Marianne will be honored for her outstanding service at the upcoming Reach for the Stars event, held on March 21, 7 p.m., in The Mansion at Oyster Bay.
Marianne began working at the AHRC Training Center as a teacher’s aide in 1968, a year after the school opened. At that time, there was no right for children with disabilities to attend public school. Twenty years later, Marianne was placed in charge of the school.
Under Marianne’s leadership, BCCS has grown from six classrooms in Brookville supporting 100 children to more than 1,000 children with nearly 650 staff and schools in Brookville, Westbury, New Hyde Park and Woodbury, as well as the children’s residential program (CRP) in Lido Beach. BCCS’ current programs range from infant/toddler daycare to integrated preschool to special education from pre-k through the age of 21.
Her leadership is marked with many firsts. In 1989, Marianne worked with the New York State Department of Health to develop programs for preschool students, who were medically frail or had multiple disabilities. Two years later, she connected with the Long Island Regional Planning Group to update the preschool/early intervention program.
Marianne opened one of the first autism programs on Long island in 1993 that included speech, occupational and physical therapy; she is an advocate for the importance of physical education and music to assist with behavioral development and has integrated these disciplines into her programs.
Of her many honors, Marianne received the Long Island Association of Special Education Administrators 2008 Award of Distinction in recognition of outstanding leadership, service and commitment to advocacy and assistance on behalf of children with disabilities, their families and colleagues.
“To work in this field, you must have a passion for life. While the certifications and experience matter, it’s equally important that you are able to look a child in the eyes and broaden his or her understanding of what is possible,” said Marianne, who also has served as teacher and speech pathologist. “The BCCS team understands this call to action and stands beside an engaged network of families, ready to advocate on behalf of their children.”
Marianne worked within the shifting disability rights landscape, experiencing firsthand the outcomes from the passage of 1975’s Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act, the key amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990s, to the present.
Parent advocacy has been an integral part of BCCS’ evolution, according to Marianne. One of her first professional memories is when she started as a teacher’s aide and saw parents traveling on a small bus to Albany to call out for New York State to better meet the needs of their children.
“Awareness and advocacy have created better outcomes, but by no means is the need for advocacy finished,” said Marianne. “Who we are is defined by what we do. Right now, we must continue to act and increase awareness of how to fully integrate people with developmental disabilities into a future more inclusive of people of all abilities. All the progress that has taken place is the result of the endless efforts of parents, for the love of their children – and we are just beginning.”