Staff Spotlight

This month's staff spotlight highlights the entire team that has impacted the successful collaboration between the CIU 20 Early Intervention program and two Head Start classrooms operated by Pocono Services for Families and Children at the Mountain Center.
Through the collaboration that began in 2019, twelve students with disabilities that would have been placed in a special education classroom, have joined an early childhood classroom with their peers. Through coaching and collaboration, meaningful and functional outcomes were embedded within familiar learning opportunities that exist in the child’s routines.
Supervisor of Early Intervention, Becky Eller, noted that "Having typical children as models and an amazing collaborative/coaching approach to teaching and therapy resulted in truly huge growth in all twelve students, even with the pandemic. A large part of what made this work was our amazing CIU 20 team members."
Jessica Jackson, Teacher
Jessica has been with CIU 20 as a Special Education Classroom Teacher for 15 years, serving as an Itinerant Teacher for 10 years prior to that. She says the most rewarding part of her job is to "help students find ways to overcome their challenges and find their strengths." Her advice to a new CIU 20 staff member would be, "Although this job has its daily challenges, just know that what we do has a life-long impact on these children. Smile, have fun, and treat each day as a new opportunity."
Kristen Lando, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
Kristen has been with CIU 20 as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant for 5 years. When asked how she stays positive with her students during the pandemic, she says, "I think we have all adapted to this "new norm" and the kids have all done amazing dealing with the changes as they have come. And we always try to keep things fun to keep all of our minds busy."
Katie McDonald, Speech & Language Therapist
Katie has been with CIU 20 as a Speech & Language Therapist for 9 years. She sees the Mountain Center Collaboration as a huge success, "I think that the collaboration room has helped our students in so many areas of development. It allows for them to be around their typically developing peers and learn not just from us teachers, but from their peers in a natural setting. Seeing the progress our students make from the beginning of the school year to the end speaks volumes to the success of the collaboration classroom."
Donna Rickerson, Associate Teacher
Donna has been with CIU 20 as an Associate Teacher for 2 years. She says the most rewarding part of her job is "seeing my kids' faces light up when they
learn something new. Also, when they are remembering something that was taught to them, the light in their eyes is so bright." When asked about adapting during the pandemic, she notes that "It helps me to stay positive when I see my kids smiling and caring faces. They are always concerned about me. With such a loving bunch of kiddos you can't help but be positive."