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Current Position: Module Trainer at The Comprehensive Learning Center
Story Last Updated: October 2019
Current Position Updated: October 2019
I chose Gwynedd Mercy University for many different reasons. First and foremost was the campus. From the day I stepped foot on campus for Accepted Students Day, I truly felt at home. The small, quiet campus with beautiful scenery and incredibly welcoming people was exactly what I was looking for in my college search. Another reason was GMercyU's education program. The professors of the education department were unlike any professors I had met before. They were welcoming, passionate, enthusiastic and compassionate. They cared about me from the day I walked onto campus.
I also chose GMercyU because of the track and field and cross country programs. Michael Dager, the head track and cross country coach, reached out to me after seeing my application to talk to me about the track and field and cross country programs. I had been running my whole life and had hoped to continue that passion in college, but knew that I wasn’t cut out for a Division I school. Dager explained the perks of the program to me, introduced me to the team and fueled my passion for running competitively. With all of these aspects falling into place I knew GMercyU was the right choice for me.
I was involved in a variety of clubs and organizations over the years at GMercyU. I remained a part of the cross country and track and field teams through my four years. This definitely had the greatest impact on my GMercyU experience. The bond I created with the team can never been broken. I was roommates with my teammates and have remained best friends with them since freshman year - both of which are in my wedding next year! I’m also engaged to one of my former track teammates, however, we didn’t start dating, nor were we great friends, until after we both graduated from GMercyU. Being on a team throughout college is a very unique experience and one that I wouldn’t change for the world. You travel together, you struggle together and you succeed together. It’s truly a bond that can never be broken.
I was also involved in the Special Education Club. The Special Education Club seemed perfect, as I was an education major and my passion was in working with kids with special needs. I never could have imagined that my decision to walk into that first meeting freshman year would have such a huge impact on my college career. The Special Education Club quickly became my favorite organization. I loved the work that we did throughout the community with local organizations and schools and I loved having the ability to share my passion with so many other eager college students. During my freshman year, The Special Ed Club started a walk to raise money and awareness for individuals with special needs. I was lucky enough to be able to not only watch this event grow but also play a role in helping it become what it is today.
During my junior year, I became co-president of the Special Education Club with my close friends Christie DelHagen and Alex Valeno. We were eager to continue down the path that those before us had paved. The walk was our main focus, as we wanted to make it bigger and better than the year before. It was with very sad hearts that we learned of the passing of Alex Valeno during January of our junior year. Christie and I didn’t know how to proceed but with the strength and courage instilled in us by Dr. Schadler and Alex’s passion at the forefront of our minds, we found the strength and determination to continue planning the walk. That year the walk was dedicated to Alex and has continued to be in her honor as the Alex Valeno Exceptional Persons 5k Run/Walk. Being a part of this club taught me leadership skills and drove my passion, persistence and determination to serve those with special needs.
Sigma Phi Sigma was the National Mercy Honors Society that I applied for and was accepted into my sophomore year. Sigma allowed me to continue to grow my desire to serve others through a variety of service opportunities. Through this honor society, I truly learned how to live according to the ideals of Catherine McCauley - fidelity, scholarship and service. In my junior year, I became treasurer of Sigma and by senior year, Colleen Dalton and I were co-presidents. I valued the time spent with this organization, because it allowed me to be fully engulfed in my mercy education.
GMercyU's Education program, like I mentioned earlier, was one of the main reasons that I chose GMercyU and throughout my four years it continued to be the reason I loved college so much. The School of Ed is a unique department. I never expected to bond with my college professors the way that I did. Those professors were the ones that helped me discover the passion I had for education and my desire to enter the field of special education. They were the most caring and compassionate individuals I have ever encountered. Their doors were always open for both personal and professional conversations, helping me to truly feel at home in this new environment. Whenever there were events on campus for families, my professors would find me so that they could meet my parents, siblings, grandparents and anyone else that joined us.
In the classroom, their passion for educating young minds filled the room, inspiring each of us to work hard, stay committed and strive to be the best teacher we could be. After graduation from GMercyU and entering the “real world,” I still feared that I wasn’t really going to know how to be a teacher, not because of anything my professors did or didn’t do, but because I doubted myself and my abilities. However, I quickly began to gain confidence in myself after realizing that the School of Education and the professors at GMercyU had prepared me more than I ever thought possible. Just in the interview phase I was assured that I really did know more than I gave myself credit for, and as a result of our seminar course during our final semester, I certainly knew how to dress and prepare for an interview! The School of Education prepared me professionally, academically, and emotionally for life after college, giving me the strength, determination and passion to be whoever I desired to be.
Following graduation from GMercyU, I was blessed to quickly find my dream job as a special education teacher working with children with autism. I have been employed at the Comprehensive Learning Center since October 2014. The Comprehensive Learning Center is a private school for individuals with autism ranging in age from 3-21. Programming provided to these students is based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); everything we do is evidence-based and data driven. The environment at CLC is very unique, in that not only do we teach the students’ academic skills, social skills and life skills, we also work very close with the students’ families going out to their home multiple times a month to work on home skills, behavioral challenges, potty training and so on. Working this close with families is not something you find at a typical school, however, since we are able to be one-on-one with our students we are able to offer a great amount of support, which our families greatly appreciate.
When I began working at CLC, I was an instructor in Module A, which is the youngest group of students ranging from 3 to 7-years-old. As an instructor I worked one-on-one throughout the day with all of the students in the classroom, but I was assigned one student whose programming I was responsible for. After working in this position for two-and-a-half years I was offered a promotion to become a trainer in this same classroom. As a trainer, I oversee the classroom, provide ongoing training to the instructors in the classroom, work to develop treatment plans for behavioral challenges that the students may exhibit and analyze the implementation of programming to assure that the students are being met with success. I began this role in July 2017 and have already learned so much. The role is certainly challenging, but it is a position that I always hoped to find myself in one day. I look forward to the challenges ahead of me, for I thrive off of new experiences. In addition, I completed my Master's in Applied Behaviour Analysis with an autism certificate from Arcadia University in December 2018.