Braintree High School’s Project PROVE Program for students with special needs turns 40 will be celebrating 40 years of success on Sunday October 21 at the Braintree Town Hall.
In connection with the 40th anniversary, retired Assistant Superintendent of Braintree Public Schools, Mike Molongoski, will receive the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities “Lifetime Hero” award in honor of his work as an educator who was instrumental in obtaining the Title III ESEA grant that launched Braintree High school’s Project PROVE Program for students with special needs 40 years ago in 1972.
Many may not remember that, prior to 1972, children of high school age with developmental delays and other challenges were not allowed to attend high school. They were denied the right to an education and either isolated at home or in state facilities.
But a new high school with a capacity for 3,000 students was slated to open in Braintree and parents saw an opportunity to incorporate into the planning of the new school a program whereby their children would be provided with vocational, academic and life skills while integrated in a setting with regular education students. Parents approached the school administration to see what could be done, and found a champion in Mike Molongoski, who was then the Director of Special Services.
Under his leadership, a school/parent advisory committee worked diligently on a proposal in response to an RFP for a competitive grant under the ESEA Title III to launch a three year innovative pilot program which could be replicated on carried on successfully in future years to serve the intended student population.
The group named the program Project PROVE with PROVE which stood for “Pre-Occupational, Vocational Education”. Despite the lengthy process
and hours needed to develop a ground, and barrier-breaking program, the group succeeded in getting approval of the Braintree School Committee to submit their proposal for the grant and off it went to Washington.
In the spring of 1972, as a result of the hard work of this small group, the leadership of Mr. Molongoski, the passion and dedication of a handful of parents including Anna Glennon, Mary McLean, Irene and Bob Poth, Claire Reinhalter, John Callaghan, and Janice Hirtle and community members including Mr. William Reade, the grant was awarded to Project PROVE as an innovative model worthy of consideration for replication in other high schools.
Thus, in the fall of 1972, the Program began with six pioneering students and enough funding to provide for the hiring of, for the first time, a Director of Special Education for the entire school system, Mr. John Malloy. Many barriers had been broken!
Molongoski didn’t stop there and over the next few years persuaded parents whose children were already at other institutions to place them in to the PROVE program. Over the years families with children with special needs have moved to Braintree because of the quality of the PROVE Program, which has, since its inception, enjoined a reputation of respect, productivity, and excellence in the field of special education. PROVE now stands for “Providing Respect Opportunity Vision and Excellence” as evidence of how the Program has continued to grow and evolve in response to changing needs.
Today the Program has an enrollment of 25 students and has continued to be supported by local funds and other applicable grants. The success of PROVE over its 40 years has been widespread and recognized in the achievements and accomplishment of its students who work in programs in the school, at the Town Hall, at the State House and throughout the community. Graduates
have been employed for decades at places such as the Hilltop Steakhouse and the Sheraton Tara, Marshalls, Shaws and Stop and Shop.
Mike Molongoski was an educator who had a vision and followed it through, helping to create a program that would not only endure but would be a draw to the Town of Braintree and a model that would be emulated by other school systems, bringing positive change to the lives of countless individuals. For his efforts, not only as a visionary who believed in the mission so
many years ago, but as a highly regarded educator who served the Braintree Public Schools for many years to come, Mike Molongoski will receive the AAIDD Lifetime Hero award at the annual Northeast Region “Heroes Among Us” Awards ceremony to be held on Monday October 29 at the Mystic Hilton Hotel, Mystic Connecticut.
The Program’s, founders, six original students, and its continuance over the years through the efforts of teachers, support staff, administrators, school committee members, parents and community representatives will be honored on Sunday October 21, 2012 at the Braintree Town Hall at the Project PROVE 40th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Reunion.
Doors will open at 12:30. Ceremony starts at 1:00, followed by buffet and dancing. Live music by the Ramshackle trio. Graduates, students, family members and PROVE supporters are all welcome. Charge is $15.00 per person. Checks may be made payable to “BHS Project PROVE Reunion” and sent to Dianne Glennon at 55 Tall Oaks Drive, L5 Weymouth MA. Donations welcome. For more information please call 781 331 3184 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dianne Glennon, Project PROVE