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Assistive Technology Award Presented to Seventh Grader in CLA in the Neighbors News

Neighbors in the News: CLA Seventh Grader Receives Assistive Technology Award

It’s always heartwarming to see young individuals recognized for their achievements, especially when they face additional challenges in their daily lives. Maria Pichon-Gomez, a seventh-grade student at John G. Conyers Learning Academy (CLA), Rolling Meadows, was recently awarded the 2023 Infinitec North Technology Achievement Award for her strong proficiency in using assistive technology to enhance her learning.

Maria, who is part of CLA’s Multiple Needs Program, uses a device that helps her communicate throughout the day. She is eager to learn and constantly requests staff to add new words to her device to support her expanding vocabulary and interests. Maria’s determination and skills have earned her recognition not just from her teachers but also from the Infinitec Coalition, a program of UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago dedicated to promoting inclusive opportunities for individuals with disabilities through technology.

Related Facts:

– The entire CLA school celebrated Maria’s achievement with a parade.
– The Infinitec Coalition recognizes only 12 students each year for their outstanding use of assistive technology to demonstrate functional independence at school.
– The Coalition’s mission is to advance independence and promote inclusive opportunities for children and adults with disabilities through technology.

In addition to Maria’s recognition, Community Consolidated School District 21 made two more appointments. Astrid Rodrigues was named the district’s director of teaching and learning for science and social studies, while Julie Brash will become assistant principal at Field Elementary School.

Rodrigues, who previously served as the principal of Americana Elementary School in Queen Bee School District 16, Glendale Heights, was chosen for her student-centered leadership and expertise in STEM education. Brash, who worked as an instructional coach in Gurnee District 56, is well-versed in curriculum planning, according to district administration.

Key Takeaway:

The appointments of Rodrigues and Brash indicate the district’s dedication to hiring skilled individuals who can lead and guide students effectively. The district’s decision to honor Maria’s achievement inspires and encourages students with disabilities that their skills and efforts are valued and appreciated.

In yet another appointment, Kelly Bye from Round Lake, was named the chief executive officer of Virginia Abrasives Corp., and subsidiary Johnson Abrasives. With his extensive experience in manufacturing, Bye is looking forward to planning the future of the company, known for its top-notch customer service.


The accomplishments of Maria, Rodrigues, Brash, and Bye reflect their determination and passion for their respective fields, highlighting not just their individual achievements but also the importance of inclusivity and talent recognition. These individuals inspire us to support and recognize the abilities and potential in everyone.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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