Newton High School Alumna brings Tourette Syndrome education back ‘home’

NJCTS Education Outreach Coordinator Gina Maria Jones delivers an in-service presentation to more than 150 faculty and staff in the Newton School District at Newton High School.

NJCTS Education Outreach Coordinator Gina Maria Jones delivers an in-service presentation to more than 150 faculty and staff in the Newton School District at Newton High School.

The NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders, Inc. (NJCTS) continues its mission to educate the public, medical professionals, and educators about the disorder. Recently, Education Outreach Coordinator Gina Maria Jones, M.Ed, delivered a faculty in-service to the entire Newton school district in Newton, NJ.

NJCTS received a call from the mother of a Newton High School freshman with Tourette Syndrome (TS) who wanted to ensure that her child had the support necessary for a successful school year. She turned to NJCTS to arrange for a presentation to the teachers. When the high school learned that there were other students living with TS in the school system, they took the in-service a step further and invited the entire district.

NJCTS Education Outreach Coordinator Gina Maria Jones, took the call and quickly agreed to do the presentation herself. With a background in education, Jones typically coordinates with NJCTS-trained presenters, who are all education professionals with advanced degrees, to facilitate the in-service presentations. But this case was different. As a 2002 Newton High School graduate, Jones—née Cicchino—couldn’t wait to bring Tourette Syndrome awareness back to her home community.

“For me, going ‘home’ to Newton High School was such a pleasure,” said Jones. “As an alumna of NHS, I was beyond honored to return to the school where I received a superb education and ‘return the favor.’ Not only was I able to thank the community that helped shape me, but I was able to educate them about Tourette Syndrome and associated disorders as well as the multitude of services and programs provided by NJCTS.”

NJCTS Faculty In-service presentations aim to help educators not only understand what their students with TS or associated disorders are going through, but also how to develop strategies for accommodating such students and fostering a supportive atmosphere. As a result of Jones’s presentation, more than 150 faculty and staff gained a better understanding of Tourette Syndrome, an inherited, misdiagnosed, and misunderstood neurological disorder characterized by involuntary sounds and movements know as tics that affects 1 in 100 children.

A natural presenter, Gina Maria grew up on the stage and performed in many of Newton High School’s musicals and plays throughout her high school years. She now uses her talent and Master of Education degree to spread TS awareness and to educate others about Tourette Syndrome and the associated disorders.

“Gina did an excellent job giving us an overview of TS and its associated disorders,” said Newton High School Principal Jeff Waldron. “The program was educational and spoke to how we can best address the needs of these students. At the end of the presentation, teachers working directly with students [living with Tourette Syndrome] got to meet with their families and Gina participated in those conversations. The entire presentation was well done and well received.”

To schedule an in-service in your area, please call 908-575-7350 or email Education Outreach Coordinator Gina Maria Jones at gjones@njcts.org. For more information about NJCTS please visit www.njcts.org.

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