From The Desk of Dr. Grace
September 2021
Hello Friends,

Today, I took stock of the differences between my September 2020 and September 2021 newsletters. It is very gratifying to be writing about the start of this school year with everyone in-person and able to receive face-to-face educational and employment services. While this is true, it still isn't quite a typical year. We had to open with some mitigation strategies in place, such as mask-wearing indoors for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status. We also chose to retain a minimum 3 ft. social distance when indoors and lastly, we have implemented mandatory testing for all unvaccinated employees. As of this writing, the VFES campus is functioning rather smoothly with all these mitigation efforts and I expect this will continue throughout the fall and winter months.

I want to briefly share a very unfortunate incident that occurred at VFES. On or about August 16, we discovered our network was infiltrated by a sophisticated hacker group. This led to a significant disruption in all technology and an equally disturbing realization that some data was ‘stolen’ from a few drives on our network. This resulted in a letter being sent to many of you earlier this month. We retained a cyber security firm, which assisted us in eradicating the intrusion, identified possible ways the hacker group infiltrated us and ultimately continues to assist us with cyber security monitoring and the implementation of two-factor authentication (2FA) processes. The implementation of 2FA will be rolled out over the next week. This security measure will be used by all VFES staff and Vanguard School students while on campus.

On Wednesday, September 8, 2021, buses filled our entranceways and staff mingled outside waiting to see their students as they got off the bus. It was just how a school year should start. Our teachers had just completed preparation and training (as best they could without technology) the prior week (August 30 – September 3). While you are never fully ready to take on a new school year, we were fully prepared to greet the mostly masked faces of our students as they disembarked from their rides. Since that exciting first day, our staff has remained prepared and ready to adjust to the needs of our students.

Some fun and familiar events are coming up in the upcoming weeks. The PTO will host our annual Dolphin Dash fundraiser on Wednesday, October 20. The Dolphin Dash is a fun opportunity for all Vanguard School students to raise funds for The Vanguard School Read to Pet Pals Program by walking or running on the VFES Fitness Trail. This year we are limiting participation in the event to students, staff and PTO volunteers to maintain Covid-19 protocols and ensure the health and safety of our campus. If you wish to provide an online donation, please visit

Next, our Transition and Adult Services Resource Fair will be held on Thursday, October 21 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. We expect about 30 community-based organizations specializing in programs for adults with disabilities to attend this informative event. Please help us spread the word and of course, we welcome you to come out to learn more about the resources available in our local area. No registration is necessary and this event is free for all to attend. Visit for more details.

Lastly, I am happy to share that we have relocated the administration of our Adult and Recreation Services program from Berwyn, PA to an office space here on campus. Our Director, Sascha Baello, and our Supervisor of Specialized Recreation, Michele Seel, are now located in the Annex 6 building. Sascha, Michele and their staff work with our adult participants to develop their skills and assist them in finding meaningful employment. We are sure their day-to-day presence and more active involvement in VTC student development will be a benefit to our students as they begin to approach the age of 21 years and move on from The Vanguard School.

Enjoy the remaining days of September and I hope October finds you in good health and well-being!


Grace A. Fornicola, Ph.D.
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