Being a Teacher and a Therapist for special needs children is a true calling. These individuals are key to the success of the children that they work with and often make more of an impact than they realize. Our AIM2Acknowledge program strives to give acknowledgement where acknowledgement is due.
Each month AIM will accept nominations, from parents of children with
autism, for a teacher or therapist who has made an impact on their child's life. Once a winner has been chosen they will be contacted by AIM and AIM will make arrangements to present the winner with a certificate and a gift card.
AIM will acknowledge our winners not only by presenting them with their certificate and gift card, but also through our social media outlets, website and monthly newsletter. The story that is shared by parents through their nomination will, also, be shared through the above-mentioned outlets. It is our hope to also include a picture of the winner as well as their bio.
Nominations will be open M-F, the 2nd week of each month.
Nominations will be reviewed the following week.
Winner will be announced the following Monday.
We are very excited to congratulate Mrs. Stephanie Simpson on being chosen as our AIM2Acknowledge winner for November!
Stephanie received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR, in 2013. She went on to complete her Master’s degree in Communication Disorders, in 2014, at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Stephanie worked in a variety of settings during her clinical rotations including public schools, preschools, nursing home facilities, university clinics and private practice. Stephanie interned at Miracle Kids Success Academy (our sister company) in Jonesboro, where she determined early intervention to be her ultimate passion. She has treated a variety of speech-language disorders but she especially enjoys language therapy, helping children gain the fundamentals for communication and language development, which includes vocabulary, basic concepts, grammar, social skills and many additional components. Stephanie is passionate about communicating with parents and families about their child’s goals addressed in therapy. She believes it is so important that caregivers be informed of areas that their child is working on so that carryover, or generalization of these goals, is experienced in multiple contexts. Doing so not only strengthen’s her relationship with families, but it helps the child experience progress two-fold. In Stephanie’s spare time, she enjoys traveling and seeing new places, but most of all, she loves spending quality time with her husband and their family. Stephanie is actively involved in her church, specifically volunteering weekly in children’s ministry. Stephanie said, “I can’t deny, I love watching kids grow and learn!”
I always knew that I wanted to work with children in some way or capacity! I have always loved them fiercely, even as a little girl! The one-on-one and small group settings appealed to me greatly when I was considering speech therapy. I love developing such a personal relationship with each one of my kids. The longer I have worked in my field, the more I have fallen in love with giving my kids a “voice.” Life without the ability to communicate is lonely, isolating, and frightening! I truly love working with these children and their families to unlock their thoughts, feelings, and desires with the gift of communication. It is priceless! Children with special needs are true blessings from God, and often, they teach us more than we could ever expect!
Stephanie came into Cole's life when he was diagnosed at the age of 3 to, now, 7 1/2 years old. From the very beginning Stephanie has impacted Cole's life in a huge way. Cole went from being completely non-verbal with no communication skills, to using PECS and some verbal language, to using descriptive words, and adding more words everyday. I knew the moment that Stephanie and Cole met that God sent her to our family. Her kind and loving nature not only put me at ease, but made this scared timid little boy love her immediately. She has always been his fan. She has shown him that she believes in his success and ability to communicate with the world from day one. She helped give my family hope. She not only an amazing speech therapist, but is a huge advocate for Cole and all of her clients. When the laws changed she worked extra hours and led more paperwork to make her case that Cole needed 180 minutes instead of the capped 120 minutes a week which we are extremely thankful for. I cannot thank her enough for her dedication to Cole. Not only has she given my son the gift of communication, she has given our whole family the gift of support, understanding and encouragement. This has meant more to us than she will ever know.
Mrs. Simpson, all of us at AIM want to thank you for being an amazing Speech Therapist, for making an impact on Cole's life and for being a big part of the NWA Special Needs Community.
We are excited to congratulate Ms. Amber Peck on being chosen as our October AIM2Acknowledge Winner!!
I am a 37-year-old mom of the sweetest little man that is 10 years old and is my everything. Born and raised in Oklahoma but call Northwest Arkansas my home for the past 16 years. I received my undergrad degree in Early Childhood Education from John Brown University, a master's degree in Special Education from Harding University, and I graduated in December of 2019 with my Education Specialists degree in Education Leadership - Special Education Director from Arkansas State University. I am in my 5th year teaching special education for Sugar Creek Elementary School.
Teaching has always been a dream of mine. I would even pretend to play "classroom" with my stuffed animals as a young girl. Having the privilege of teaching Special Education has been one of the most influential aspects of my life. Every day that I see my students overcome their challenges motivates me to be a better person and teacher for them. I believe that students with special needs are more than their disability. I set high, achievable expectations in order to show them how capable they are. They teach me love, compassion, patience, acceptance, tolerance, and resilience. My heart is full! They are my WHY!
Maria shares a unique story as she has a twin sister who is also Autistic. In second grade, due to the district only having one special needs classroom per school, the girls did not do well in the same classroom at R.E. Baker, and Maria was moved to Sugar Creek elementary at our request. There she joined Miss Amber Peck, for the next three years, and what a successful experience and amazing transformation for Maria those three years became! In the first month alone, our small scared child who often would not speak or look people in the eye, was on a stage, a month in, with her class speaking into a microphone! This girl with little or no social skills, who only had friends who were teachers and not classmates, who would melt down and run away at the fear of being wrong or overwhelmed, transformed with constant assistance and encouragement from Ms. Peck and the entire Sugar Creek School experience of staff and students. Maria learned amazing social skills, how to be brave, how to be OK with making mistakes, how to make friends and be way more independent between classes and teaching her about expected routines and time frames. Ms. Peck helped her learn to express herself without hurting herself and others, and how to move into using words to get her needs met. Ms. Peck was willing to be in constant communication on a daily and weekly and sometimes weekend basis to help avoid miscommunications and meltdowns when Maria was miss- understanding what she expected was going to happen at school. Ms. Peck gave us her cell phone number and was THERE for us far above and beyond the normal call of a teacher, simply because she cared. The constant on par support between her communication and ours created a wonderful blend of transition and expectation at home and school for Maria that was very consistent and needed in Maria's strict memorizing world. She was an amazing blend of patience and love with boundaries and a no-nonsense or push over attitude, and that is EXACTLY what Maria needed to help her push through her amazing growth. And Maria successfully graduated 4th grade going into a partial Resource room experience for her 5th grade year! Her one regret was "next year, no Ms. Peck". Thank you, Amber Peck, for your amazing dedication, forward thinking and support when it came to helping Maria grow and learn throughout the last three years. You held your boundaries with her and showed patience while keeping in constant contact with us and allowing a support that bridged from school to home and back again. And it paid off beautifully!
~ Erica Schamber
Ms. Peck we thank you for being such an amazing teacher, for making such a wonderful impact on Maria and her family, and for being an important part of the Special Needs community in NWA.
Mrs. Farnan is an Occupational Therapist at Sunshine School and Development Center where she works with numerous children with autism and many other special needs.
If I could nominate the entire Sunshine School to receive an award, I would. However, Kathy Farnan has gone above and beyond since the 1st day we met her during our initial evaluations. When I took my daughter to Sunshine School for her evaluations, I was scared. Not only was I scared about all the information I had recently received about Eden, I was scared of what the day would be like trying to get my daughter to sit still and be evaluated. Our evaluation with Kathy was a breeze! Eden responded to her surprisingly well and at the end of it Kathy told me she was going to request that Eden be on her caseload. Let me tell ya, we hit the jackpot! Kathy has helped with everything for Eden from aggressive behaviors to sensory outlets, to visual schedules to encouragement for me. She has talked to me more times than I can count and everytime she gives me multiple ideas on how to help my child and improve her behaviors at home. She has made time to talk with me while not at work, she has sent home lists of sensory ideas for Eden. Everytime I have reached out to her, she has responded with not only help for Eden, but also encouragement for me. We are so lucky to have Kathy as our daughter's occupational therapist. I joke with my husband that I would gladly move her in with us and I'm positive that my daughter would love that. Eden loves Kathy and while she can't exactly tell me about her day at school. I do hear "my friend, Kathy" a lot and that's a pretty great feeling.
Mrs. Farnan, AIM would like to say a big thank you for being such an important part of the autism community in NW Arkansas!
Mrs. Lasiter, a native of NW Arkansas, and a Kindergarten Teacher at Centerton Gamble Elementary is our 1st ever AIM2Acknowledge winner. Mrs. Lasiter attended the University of Arkansas where she earned her degree in Elementary Education. The 2019-2020 school year is her 6th year of teaching at Centerton Gamble.
“Growing up, I learned to feel compassion, empathy and the true meaning of inclusion all because I have a brother who has special needs. Teaching is my true calling, and to be able to make an impact on the lives of those that have autism is an honor. We all strive to live, we strive to learn, and we strive to be loved. Students with autism need an individualized learning approach and it is important to me to be able to intertwine what they need individually with how I teach the whole group. Nothing is more near and dear to my heart than to teach a student with autism to shine in their own unique way while at the same time being shown love, kindness, acceptance and compassion from their peers.”
As a child enters kindergarten, it's normal for a parent to experience anxiety. When it's special needs child, that anxiety can be debilitating. Savannah Lasiter is the picture of what we need in American schools. She took the time to get to know Dawson inside and out. She met every accommodation with an open heart and an open mind. She sought out resources and guidance from other professions to ensure that every need was met. When he hit hard walls in his education, she would completely change her teaching style to meet his needs. She never gave up, never slowed down and always worked to find the best way to serve Dawson in her classroom. Because of her diligence and hard work, Dawson ended Kindergarten on track with his peers and ready for first grade. For the first time, I was able to leave my son with an adult with full confidence that he would be protected, cared for and loved as if I was with him. I am so thankful for Mrs. Lasiter.
Congratulations Mrs. Lasiter!!! And thank you for making such a huge impact on Dawson Skordal while he was in your Kindergarten class!
Mrs. Lasiter will be presented with an AIM2Acknowledge certificate and gift card on September 13th, at the Centerton Gamble