Speaker Heastie Continues Statewide Tour in Western New York

Speaker Carl Heastie today continued his annual statewide tour in Western New York with Assemblymembers Jennifer Lunsford and Demond Meeks, taking a walking tour of the village of Fairport and touring Heritage Christian Services in Penfield and East High School in Rochester. Today’s visit allowed Speaker Heastie to see the critical resources Heritage Christian Services provides Western New Yorkers, as well as the success of the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) at East High School.

“Touring communities across New York allows me to see firsthand the challenges and strengths of each unique area,” said Speaker Heastie. “Today’s tour shined a light on facilities like Heritage Christian Services and the essential services they offer to their community, and visiting East High School reminds us of the potential of our students when they have the support they need.”

On the first stop of today’s tour, Speaker Heastie joined Assemblymember Lunsford for a walking tour of the village of Fairport. Afterwards, they toured Heritage Christian Services. Established in 1984, Heritage Christian Services is constantly innovating and expanding to meet the needs of the community. The facility offers residential and day programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, respite, self-direction, community services, supported employment, brokers and fiscal intermediaries, Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP), therapeutic riding and a health and wellness center.

“Heritage Christian Services is a vital resource for many Western New Yorkers and I am incredibly proud of the work that they do,” said Assemblymember Lunsford. “I am thankful to have Speaker Heastie here today to see firsthand the important work they are doing and all that Western New York has to offer.”

Speaker Heastie later joined Assemblymember Meeks at East High School in Rochester to learn about how the school used a partnership with the University of Rochester to improve outcomes for students. The University of Rochester was approved by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to serve as the EPO for East High School starting in the 2015-2016 school year. Prior to the partnership, East High School was on the verge of being closed by NYSED. Since the partnership’s inception, the school’s graduation rate has increased from 33 percent to almost 80 percent in the last year. This increase has been a result of expanded learning opportunities, programs, services, and additional partnerships with other educational facilities in the community. For this reason, East High EPO is emerging as a national model for the most distressed schools.

“The partnership between the University of Rochester and East High School is an example of the success that can be achieved when a focus is placed on family and community engagement and by providing the necessary support a child needs to succeed,” said Assemblymember Meeks. “I want to thank Speaker Heastie for coming to Rochester today to see the transformative power of this educational partnership program that I hope will serve as a model for other struggling schools.”