Contacts for Special Needs

Special Needs Director
Jessica Tischler, M.Ed, CTRS
(703) 537-3031

Special Needs Program Coordinator
Aryn Cahen, M.Ed

Resource Specialist
Melissa Hochberg, M.Ed

Upcoming Events

JCCNV: A Great Fit for Me!

Click to view...

The Voice

Book Discussion Club

JCCNV Special Needs Committee Presents:

Book Club: Disabilities Education, Stories of Inspiration, and More!

The JCCNV’s Special Needs Committee has launched a book club focusing on books about special needs, non-fictional stories of inspiration, or books related to disabilities to broaden our knowledge. The book club meetings are held at the JCCNV every six weeks from 6:30pm–7:30pm prior to the special needs committee meetings. For more information, please email Jean Gurman at, for details and check our website often for upcoming meeting date!

Next meeting: Tuesday, April 23, 7pm

Special Event! We are delighted to announce that Eileen Cronin, author of Mermaid, A Memoir of Resilience, our April book selection,  is going to speak to us on Wednesday, April 23 at 7pm at the JCCNV! It happened that she was already scheduled to have a book signing in Alexandria the next evening so it was perfect timing for all of us!  We have Bronwen Rankin to thank for contacting and arranging for Eileen visit with us and thus we are rescheduling our April book club meeting from April 8th to April 23rd! In addition, we will be meeting and welcoming back to the Center, Eileen's daughter, Ania and meeting Eileen's husband, Andy Lakritz both of whom are traveling with her! 
Eileen's visit is especially meaningful because 13 years ago her daughter graduated from the JCCNV preschool! Eileen, in her email to us, told of wonderful memories of friends she and her daughter made during her preschool time here and in particular mentioned wanting to see two of Ania's preschool teachers again who are still working in our preschool today!In fact, Eileen made a special request to invite the JCCNV preschool staff to join us. We will as well as the entire Center staff some of whom may remember Eileen and her daughter as well.

Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience by Eileen Cronin
A gorgeously crafted memoir about resilience, family, and forging your own way, by a woman born without legs.

At the age of three, Eileen Cronin first realized that only she did not have legs. Her boisterous Catholic family accepted her situation as "God's will," treating her no differently than her ten siblings, as she "squiddled" through their 1960s Cincinnati home. But starting school, even wearing prosthetics, Cronin had to brave bullying and embarrassing questions. Thanks to her older brother's coaching, she handled a classmate's playground taunts with a smack from her lunchbox. As a teen, thrilled when boys asked her out, she was confused about what sexuality meant for her. She felt most comfortable and happiest relaxing and skinny dipping with her girlfriends, imagining herself "an elusive mermaid." The cause of her disability remained taboo, however, even as she looked toward the future and the possibility of her own family.

In later years, as her mother battled mental illness and denied having taken the drug thalidomide--known to cause birth defects--Cronin felt apart from her family. After the death of a close brother, she turned to alcohol. Eventually, however, she found the strength to set out on her own, volunteering at hospitals and earning a PhD in clinical psychology.

Reflecting with humor and grace on her youth, search for love, and quest for answers, Cronin spins a shimmering story of self-discovery and transformation.