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2015-2016 Staff of the Year Award Recipients

The Exemplary Staff of the Year Award recognizes professional and support staff who make exceptional contributions to the CIP communities. All members of our community are encouraged to nominate staff colleagues who deserve this special acknowledgment.

The following are our 2015-2016 CIP Staff of the Year Award Recipients:

CIP Amherst:

SY 2016 Jenel MeierJenel Meier’s dedication to our students and her role at CIP made her a natural choice for this honor. In addition to her job as Head Student Advisor, Jenel also serves as Academic Coordinator, Medication Coordinator, and Summer Program Coordinator. She has a very stressful job but never lets it interfere with her work with the students. Jenel is a very kind-spirited and compassionate person, and is highly regarded by her colleagues as a key member of the CIP Amherst team. She genuinely cares for all of our students and regularly goes above and beyond her role to help the students whenever necessary. Jenel is truly deserving of this award. – Christine Ryan, CIP Amherst Program Director


CIP Berkeley:

SY 2016 Mike VaughnThis year’s staff of the year award was given to Mike Vaughn, Social Skills coordinator. Mike’s dedication towards our students’ self-growth and his collaboration as an exceptional team player made him the ideal candidate for this award. Mike is always looking for new ideas to engage our students in different social settings so our students can grow the confidence they need as they transition towards independence. He supports our students out in the community during work hours and outside of work. In addition to supporting our students in the social skills department, Mike has created different social skills videos with our students that is often used for teaching purposes or to share with our families. Students and staff truly enjoy working with him and this award is a testament of his values towards his work at CIP. – Kaeb Menker, CIP Berkeley Program Director


CIP Berkshire:

SY Joe CoxJoe Cox has taken his role as Medication Coordinator to new horizons. Besides supervising students weekly as they fill their medi-sets, he also uses the teaching opportunities to help them learn how to be fully self-medicating, by doing med counts with them, by showing them how to know when to refill or reorder meds, by calling their insurance company with them so they can resolve the problems that occur at times, etc. Whatever students need to master to handle their meds on their own, Joe teaches them. Joe’s developed a good working relationship with the team at Rite-Aid so our students get the best service possible. He also informs parents when their students get low on the meds that come from home. He’s been a steadfast champion of first aid, making sure that the kits are up to date in vans and other essential locations, and by encouraging parents to help their students to stock appropriate OTC meds in their apartments. He also helps students make doctor appointments, navigating through insurance obstacles when needed. And…he’s the main person who assesses sick students to excuse them from classes or to let them know what they must do to still make their appointments that day.

In addition, Joe’s a teacher, with an engaging style of leading Reframing that gets many students off to a good start for the day. He also has taught four or five other courses from time to time as needed. Joe has also taken on an advising role for five students this term, helping them to get the most out of CIP, and keeping parents informed as to their progress. He is always willing to take on other duties as assigned. No matter what job Joe takes on, he characteristically handles it with patience and professionalism, a calm and positive attitude, and belief in the students that helps them believe in themselves. No wonder he’s our Staff of the Year! – Charles Houff, CIP Berkshire Clinical Director


CIP Bloomington:

SY 2016 Ellen DavidsonEllen Davidson has recently been promoted to Assistant Director at CIP Bloomington, a position which she truly deserves. She has been instrumental in creating a seamless transition between outgoing Program Director Karen Thomas’ retirement and welcoming our new leader, Dr. Cliff Madison. Ellen became passionate about helping individuals and their families after her son was diagnosed with Autism in 2000. She has since become a behavior analyst and is ess….Ellen feels every individual deserves the opportunity to reach their highest potential. Ellen is also very active in the community: she currently sits on the Monroe County Foundation for Autism Board as an outreach coordinator, coordinates and leads a local Autism Support group (Autism Connections) and provides behavioral support consults for the local school district. Ellen is PCMA, CPI, CPR, and First Responder Certified. – Ashley Sullivan, CIP Bloomington Admissions Coordinator


CIP Brevard:

SY 2016 Jodi Pierce

As a new director, in an organization that is so unique in meeting every student’s individual needs, it becomes imperative to have a dynamic staff. Our 2016 Brevard Staff of the Year awardee is not only a talented team member committed to the students and families but an invaluable asset to the overall success of our Center. I am consistently impressed with her knowledge in the field of young adults on the spectrum or with learning differences; she manifests complete authority over the subject matter.

Jodi Pierce, Lead Social Skills Coordinator, is called upon numerous times throughout each day, dealing with situations across the spectrum when dealing with issues of student independence and community acclimation. Most importantly, colleagues will seek Jodi’s support, due to her vast knowledge in the field and commitment to helping others succeed.

Throughout the past year, I have gained tremendous insight into Jodi’s abilities. She can turn any setting into a learning environment. Through clear explanations, demonstrations, and visual/auditory means, Jodi utilizes high-involvement activities that require students to follow procedures and maximize available learning time. I enjoy walking into her appointments, to witness her unique and exciting approach to the subject matter and her ability to focus students and gain their involvement. Without reservation, Jodi is a standout staff member and treasure in the Brevard Center. – Michele Ramsay, CIP Brevard Program Director

CIP Long Beach:

SY Crystal HayesThe CIP Long Beach staff of the year award was presented to our student advisor, Crystal Hayes, who was recently promoted to head student advisor. In an effort to include as many people in the selection process, we solicited nominations from all center staff, national staff, parents, students and community members. While we had an overwhelming number of nominations from across our great team, Crystal was our champion this year, and is truly deserving of the title.

Crystal received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Instrumental Music Education from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, and a Master of Education degree in Special Education from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Crystal began her teaching career in 2005 as a high school band director. It was her later position as a one-on-one instructional aide for a high school student that inspired her to pursue a career in special education. In this position, she became proficient in various assistive technology options and learned the importance of preparing students for a smooth and successful transition to independence. Crystal’s passion is student success, and she believes each step toward goal attainment is worth celebrating!

Here are some of the responses we received during the nomination process, explaining why Crystal was the perfect candidate for the award:

  • She is dedicated and hardworking.
  • A mentor to our students.
  • A leader at our center and motivates others to do their best.
  • She has a “can do” attitude.
  • She is an extraordinary individual who works so diligently to make the world a better place.
  • We really appreciate her and think she showcases what CIP represents.
  • Crystal genuinely cares about staff and her students and has been a shining light at our center.
  • As a co-worker Crystal has taught me valuable personal and professional lessons that have made me a better person.
Congratulations Crystal! You are a shining gem in our CIP world and truly deserve this recognition. – Michael Noel, CIP Long Beach Program Director

This has been a special needs program update from Asperger’s & LD College Programs. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.