10 Years, 10 Triumphs

Triumph 8: Hunter College Teaches the Teachers

Tricia Mahalko is a special ed vet with 20 years of experience. For the past 7 years, Tricia has worked at PS 186Q in Bellerose, Queens. The elementary school has 40 children with autism.

The school’s special education program chose Tricia to attend the Hunter Autism Research, Practice & Policy Center (HARPP), an institution dedicated to the education and training of professionals. At HARPP, she received certification in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and was able to gain a “scientific understanding of a child’s behavior… and how to apply more effective strategies for students on the autism spectrum,” Tricia said.

Equipped with a behavioral approach, Tricia shares her new knowledge with other teachers at PS186Q. “I’m very lucky to have the support of my administration and colleagues, and to have been chosen for this program,” she said, “everything I learned, I use every day.”

HARPP Professor John Brown said the program was designed for working professionals exactly like Tricia. “Our vision was to get effective intervention skills to those professionals who are working everyday with students with autism. To date we have provided training to almost 300 professionals who have had impact on the lives of more than 4000 students with autism and their families.”

HARPP is a first of its kind program, opened in 2008 through a grant and ongoing technical assistance provided by NYCA. The program offers basic knowledge about autism and effective strategies to serve those on the spectrum, conducts applied research and responds to the needs of people with autism and their families.

NYCA and Hunter College agreed that the best way to raise the bar on autism education is to offer high quality evidence-based training to teachers and other professionals. As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we are proud to add this program to our list of 10 triumphs.