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Merakey Autism Center Ellsworth

WELCOME to Merakey Autism Center ELLSWORTH (Washington County | 724-239-2539)

The Merakey Autism Center Ellsworth is a private licensed academic school serving the needs of students with an autism spectrum disorder and emotional support needs. We opened our doors in 2011 and have partnered with local school districts, service providers, families, and the community to service students ages 5-21. The Merakey Autism Center Ellsworth currently serves over 15 students and can accommodate up to three autism classrooms and three emotional support classrooms. The goal of the Merakey Autism Center is to enhance the development of the students' social skills, while providing academic instruction. It is important to us that the students are active participants within their community. At the Merakey Autism Center, students focus on academic skills, communication, life skills, transition to the workplace or post-secondary education environment, self-regulation, social skills, sensory needs and executive functioning. Our educators are Certified Special Education Teachers who strive to bring out the best in all of our students. They implement evidenced-based instruction and differentiated lessons to meet the needs of each student.

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School Address:  3 Oak Street/ P.O. Box 625 Ellsworth, PA 15331
School Phone Number: 724-239-2539
Education and Autism Services Administration Office Number: 724-532-2302

Name: Lindsey Gamble
Title: Director
Email: Lindsey.Gamble@merakey.org
Name: Lisa Defloria
Title: Office Manager
Email: Lisa.Defloria@merakey.org
Rachel Sage
Name: Rachel Sage
Title: Lead Teacher
Email: Rachel.Sage@merakey.org
Take a walk around our school and in the classroom!

Cameron M.'s Success Story

Cameron M. - Success Story Cameron M. - Success Story Cameron M. - Success Story When Cameron joined NHS School Ellsworth as a Kindergarten student in 2014, he was unable to walk or communicate. Upon entering NHS School Ellsworth, a team consisting of Cameron's parents, a school district representative, teacher, principal, speech therapist, and physical therapist, met to discuss how to proceed with Cameron's education.

Everyone agreed that the ultimate goal would be to get Cameron to walk and communicate independently. The physical therapist was able to assist in getting Cameron a walker that would help him learn to walk on his own. The speech therapist was able to create and implement a picture communication book to assist Cameron in communicating his wants and needs. Cameron, with the use of his walker, can now ambulate throughout the school. In addition to his increase in communication and physical strength, Cameron has also demonstrated strengths in socializing with his classmates and staff.

Jacob learns to speak

Jacob is an eleven year-old student in our Autism classroom. One of his parents' biggest concerns was that he would never talk. We have been working every day since Jacob was enrolled here last year on helping him to develop the skills he needs to form sounds and words. Currently, Jacob can say seven words, all functioning to his day-to-day living. These words include "yes, no, help, eat, mom, car, and ball." We also use sign language with him to help enhance his vocabulary even further. I spoke with Jacob's father recently and he could not believe that he is using his voice to speak. He reported that Jacob will now ask for help when he needs something at home. Hearing stories like this makes what we do at NHS all worth it!  
Archived News from School Year 2015-2016

Transition Workshop Prepares Students for the Future

(10.09.2015) - Our school developed a simulated transition workshop for all the students in the school. The students 14 and over are learning job skills and how to work in the community. The students have to "clock in" at the time clock, pull their work folders and complete their assigned jobs, "clock out", and return to class. They are learning different skills such as mopping/sweeping the floor, food prep, retail tasks (folding clothes, pricing items, etc…), administrative/office functions (filing, answering telephones, making calls, writing emails, copying, etc…), and pre-vocational skills (assembly and sorting). Other skills worked on at the transition workshop include balancing a checkbook, budgeting finances, searching for jobs, and participating in mock job interviews. With our new transition workshop, the students are on the road to a successful future!

Transition Workshop Prepares Students for the Future Transition Workshop Prepares Students for the Future Transition Workshop Prepares Students for the Future

Sensory Time

(09.18.2015) - The NHS School Ellsworth is having fun with their new sensory room activities. The students are enjoying walking the balance beam, stepping/jumping over the hurdles; crawling/scooterboarding through the "human car wash"; relaxing on the mats and stability balls while reading; and learning to socialize with each other while playing games and drawing. NHS School Ellsworth is off to a great start to the new year!

Sensory Time at NHS School Ellsworth Sensory Time at NHS School Ellsworth Sensory Time at NHS School Ellsworth

Archived News from School Year 2014-2015

Celebrating the Holidays

The NHS School Ellsworth had their first holiday dance this year. The students and staff decorated the school with handmade decorations and Christmas lights. Students enjoyed dancing with friends, listening to music, having a sit down dinner, and opening presents.

Learning Job Skills

The students are learning new and fun transition lessons, like how to sweep and mop after lunch. They are doing a great job and having fun while learning new life skills to help them succeed in their future.

Learning Job Skills

Pizza Franchise is a Hit

Pizza Franchise is a HitThis week the students are learning about franchises. Miss Jacqui's class has taken on the responsibility of the "Pizza Franchise". The students prepare the order forms, send them out to the parents, collect the orders and count the slices needed. On Friday, they collect and count the money to pay for the pizza and determine how much to leave for a tip. When the pizza arrives, Miss Jacqui's class prepares the plates. The other classes come up to the kitchen window as they are served their pizza. This is a new, weekly event for the school and all the students and staff really enjoy having the opportunity to order pizza.

New Transition Room

New Transition RoomStudents and staff at the NHS School in Ellsworth worked together to build a new transition room. The room includes a bed, to teach the students how to properly make a bed; a vacuum, to teach housekeeping skills, and a bookshelf, to teach students how to organize things on the shelves. The students worked hard and learned a lot of skills to help them as they prepare to transition into adulthood.

NHS Schools Movie Night Under the Stars

The NHS Schools held their second annual Movie Night Under the Stars at Lynch Field in Greensburg on Saturday, August 9. Over 200 community members gathered, with blankets and chairs, on a beautiful summer evening to enjoy a big screen viewing of The LEGO Movie. The kids enjoyed hanging out with Chuck E. Cheese and the Therapy Dogs from Musico's K-9 Academy. Once the movie started and the sun began to set, many of the guests could be seen wearing glow sticks and enjoying some quality time with their families and friends. In addition, many of the adults enjoyed visiting vendor tables and participating in the 50/50 raffle, along with winning prizes donated from local businesses. The NHS Schools are already looking forward to next year's event!

Special thanks go to Advanced Visual Solutions for donating the screen for the event and additional thanks goes to The Texas Roadhouse, Sheetz, Mario Lemieux Foundation, Arnold Palmer, Chuck E Cheese, Ford Business Machine Inc., Wash World Express, Walmart, Westmoreland Federal Credit Union, Pennsylvania Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, Saint Vincent College Prevention Projects, Westmoreland Community Action, Value Behavioral Health of PA, Boy Scouts of America – Westmoreland Fayette Council, Metal Photo Service, Inc., Epiphany Counseling and Wellness Center, Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania, PA Connecting Communities, Eat N Park, Signarama, Classic Hits 107.1 WHJB Radio Station, 1480 WCNS Radio Station and The Meadows Original Frozen Custard.

Archived News from School Year 2013-2014

Movie Night Under the Stars - 08.09.2014

Movie Night Under the Stars - 08.09.2014

Saturday, August 9th | Rain Date Sunday, August 10th - Showtime 8–10pm at the Lynch Field in Greensburg
Admission is FREE – however - DONATIONS are welcome at entry
For questions, please contact: Cori Shepler - Phone: 724-532-2302 | Email: cshepler@merakey.org
All funds received will benefit enrolled students at the NHS Schools Herminie, Greensburg, Apollo, Latrobe, Somerset, and Ellsworth.

Spring Cleaning

Last week, the students at NHS Ellsworth School did some spring cleaning of the school's kitchen. The students learned the top down method of cleaning a room. They cleaned off the counter tops and took turns doing the dishes. The students used teamwork to also clean out the refrigerator. There were students looking at dates of food and cleaning the inside of the freezer. After cleaning the counter tops and refrigerator, they all pitched in to mop the floor with sponges. For all their hard work, the students enjoyed Kool-Aid as a treat. Everyone had good clean fun and learned a lot about the cleaning process.

NHS School  Ellsworth SSpring Cleaning

Come One Come All to the Ellsworth Circus!

On Friday, May 9, students, family members, and staff enjoyed a fun filled day at a virtual carnival for their annual field day celebrations! Festivities included games and activities such as a bounce house, photo booth, Plinko, ring toss, can toss, duck pond, bean bag toss, face painting and creating sun catchers. Prizes of toys and stuffed animals were given to lucky winners. The carnival even had a clown making balloon animals for the students! After an exciting time playing games, everyone ate lunch including hot dogs, baked beans, watermelon, pasta salad, cookies and cake. Participants enjoyed carnival related snacks including snow cones, cotton candy, popcorn and peanuts. The hard work of preparing for the carnival by the students and staff made the field day a success.

NHS School Ellsworth CircusNHS School Ellsworth CircusNHS School Ellsworth Circus

Making Volcanoes

In February, the students learned about the three types of volcanoes: cinder, composite, and shield. They made their own volcanoes by using paper mache, an orange traffic cone, and newspaper and painted the volcano to make it more lifelike. Then they caused the volcano to erupt with a combination of Mentos and soda pop. The students had a blast with this science activity!

NHS School Ellsworth Makes VolcanoesNHS School Ellsworth Makes Volcanoes

Egg Drop Contest

The students held an egg drop science experiment contest on February 17. The students learned about the scientific method, how to develop a hypothesis, and create a design to test it. Many of the designs used Styrofoam cups with coffee filters as parachutes. The students' designs were dropped high off the stage in order to determine if their designs would protect their delicate cargo. The students enjoyed watching the designs drop off the stage. After the egg drop was completed, each student received a certificate for developing a design and participating in the event.

NHS School Ellsworth Has an Egg Drop ContestNHS School Ellsworth Has an Egg Drop ContestNHS School Ellsworth Has an Egg Drop Contest

Students Learn Their Way Around the Kitchen

The students have been learning practical real-life skills in the kitchen. The students have learned about food safety, food handling, and how to safely utilize a natural gas fueled stove. They have also learned how to measure ingredients and how to read and follow a recipe. The students put their new skills to use and made a buffalo chicken dip. Afterwards the students enjoyed eating their buffalo chicken dip with celery sticks.

NHS School  Ellsworth Students Learn Their Way Around the Kitchen

Learning to Make Pizza

The NHS School Ellsworth Learn to Make Pizza The students had a pizza fun Friday this past week. They learned how to make their own pizzas from start to finish. They worked as a team to spray the pan with non-stick spray, stretch the pizza dough, apply sauce, spread cheese, and place pepperoni slices on the pizza. After the pizzas were made, they were placed in the oven and each class monitored their pizza's cooking time.

Once finished, the classrooms designated a server who handed out the finished pizza slices to their fellow students. Each classroom showed great team work skills!

Learning about Polar Bears

NHS School Ellsworth Learns about Polar BearsNHS School Ellsworth students learned about polar bears through the use of a K-W-L chart which tracks what a student knows (K), wants to know (W), and has learned (L) about a topic.

Each student had a change to give input and decide what new information they wanted to learn. The students were curious about physical characteristics, hunting skills and if polar bears are hunted by humans. They learned what polar bears eat, where they live and how they became endangered. The students were amazed that polar bears can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, they can swim and their bear paws can be up to 15 inches wide.

Annual Christmas Party

NHS School Ellsworth students have been working hard to prepare for their annual Christmas Party. The students participated in a Secret Santa by picking a name out of a hat, wrapping a gift for their friend, and exchanging it during the party. They also enjoyed eating good food, playing games, and making crafts.

NHS School Ellsworth Prepares for Annual Christmas PartyNHS School Ellsworth Prepares for Annual Christmas PartyNHS School Ellsworth Prepares for Annual Christmas Party

Autumn Festival

Our school hosted an Autumn Festival for Thanksgiving. Student and staff member memorizes and practiced a small part for a Thanksgiving play and the students made Native American head bands to wear during the play. On the day of the festival, the staff and students set up tables, and prepared some of the food. The parents came and watched the Thanksgiving parade and afterwards enjoyed lunch. The school looks forward to holding their Autumn Festival again next year.

Pop Tab Recycling Program Comes to NHS School

All of the NHS Schools worked together to collect pop tabs to be a part of the Pop Tab Recycling Program. The program, through the Ronald McDonald House, generated money from the pop tabs to keep the Ronald McDonald House open, lights on, and heat running! Our Schools collected 46 pounds of pop tabs (1,267 pop tabs per pound), and it was exchanged at .50 cents per pound to receive $23.00. The NHS Schools will donate this money to the Ronald McDonald House and will continue to collect pop tabs throughout the rest of this school year.

recycling program

Fire Safety Week

The NHS School Ellsworth students were visited by the Ellsworth Volunteer Fire Department. The fire fighters came to the school and presented a demonstration on fire safety to the students. The students were then given an opportunity to tour the fire truck, climb upon, and learn the functions of the various pieces of life saving equipment.

Thank you Ellsworth Fire Department for your time and important information!

Fire Week Fire WeekFire Week

Archived News from School Year 2012-2013

First Annual Movie Night Under the Stars

On Sunday, August 4, the NHS Schools celebrated their first annual "Movie Night Under the Stars" at Lynch Field in Greensburg, PA. The community gathered together with chairs and blankets for a big screen viewing of Madagascar 3. Our guests enjoyed FREE popcorn donated by the Courtyard Marriot in Greensburg, PA and purchased delicious treats from our snack booth.

Special thanks go to Advanced Visual Solutions for donating the screen for the event. Additional thanks goes to the Texas Roadhouse, Manor Grille, Progressive Dental Studio, Aw Else Boutique, A Plus Affordable, Superior Caulking, Five to Nine Refrigeration, and Sheetz for sponsoring our event.

We look forward to bringing the community together again next year for another "Movie Night Under the Stars."


Movie Night Under the Stars 2013

Please join us for the BIG SCREEN viewing of 'Madagascar 3'

Sunday, August 4th - Rain Date, August 11th
Showtime 8:00 -10:00 p.m. at Lynch Field in Greensburg, PA
Admission is FREE - however - DONATIONS are welcome at entry!

For questions, please contact:
Cori Shepler
- Phone: 724-600-0120 | Email: CShepler@merakey.org
All funds received will benefit enrolled students at the NHS Schools. DOWNLOAD FLYER

Field Day

NHS School Ellsworth celebrated Field Day on May 31. The theme this year was Down on the Farm. The staff planned games such as a fishing pond, and dig in the hay for the students. There was also a water station, bounce house, and much more for the kids to participate in with their families. In addition, a catered lunch was provided by Texas Roadhouse.

Celebrating Mother's Day

NHS School Ellsworth celebrated Mother's Day on May 10 with a Muffins with Mom celebration. Students' mothers were invited to the school in the afternoon for coffee, tea, muffins, and cookies. The students gave their mothers flowers that they spent all week caring for and a special art project they completed. Everyone had a wonderful time and the mothers enjoyed the time they got to spend with their children at school.

NHS School Ellsworth celebrated Mother's Day NHS School Ellsworth celebrated Mother's Day

"Pete the Cat" visits NHS Schools

Students from the NHS Schools Herminie, Latrobe, Ellsworth, and Greensburg gathered in Herminie's cafeteria on April 12 to watch a special performance of "Pete the Cat," presented by Stage Right Productions. The students were given a ticket for admission as well as snack tickets upon entering the theater. Some students worked the show as ticket collectors or at the concession stand serving drinks and snacks. After the play was over, all the students enjoyed a pizza party and socialized with their friends.

Pete the Cat visits NHS Schools Pete the Cat visits NHS Schools

Going into Business

Ellsworth - Cnack CartNHS School Ellsworth introduced a new, ongoing transition activity this week.

The NHS Snack Cart opened on March 13 to teach students transition skills, managing money, and responsibility. The NHS staff created work schedules for each student and inventory lists to keep track of what the students are selling.

A student, James S, helped create the menu and stock the cart; therefore he got the opportunity to be the first worker on the job. James went around to each classroom selling products from his cart.

The Snack Cart got a great response from staff, and students look forward to making this an ongoing project.

Tackle an Obstacle Course

Tackle an Obstacle Course NHS School Ellsworth participated in a new activity for physical education this past week when Miss Leann and Miss Megan set up an obstacle course in the multi-purpose room for the students to tackle. The students were instructed how to get through the course, by following step by step directions to get through the course. Once at the finish line, they had to build a tower as high as they could, without it falling over.

The students had a lot of fun cheering each other on!

Valentine's Day

Ellsworth-Valentine's DayOur school held a Valentine's Day party for all of the classes and students on February 14.

Everyone looked their best in their red, white, and pink attire. The students enjoyed giving out Valentine's to their classmates that they made in art class, and had fun decorating cupcakes.

Everyone had a great time celebrating the holiday!

2nd Annual Spaghetti Dinner and Chinese Auction

Help support NHS School Ellsworth at our 2nd Annual Spaghetti Dinner and Chinese Auction on March 23 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the school. Click here for more information...


...about Ancient Egypt

EgyptMr. D's Emotional Support Class at the NHS School Ellsworth is learning about different civilizations and cultures in history class.

This week's theme, Ancient Egypt, had the students read about the pyramids, civilians, and geography of Ancient Egypt. They created their own three dimensional pyramids, utilizing both history and math in this activity.

Celebrating Good Behavior

hot chocolate mug gameA classroom at NHS School Ellsworth celebrated a month of good behavior on January 25 with a hot chocolate party. The teacher, Miss Leann, created an activity where she placed a "hot chocolate mug" on each student's desk, and whenever a student exhibited appropriate behavior throughout the day, Miss Leann would place a mini marshmallow in the student's mug.

The goal was to have at least ten marshmallows by the end of the month to earn a party. All of the students earned enough marshmallows in the month of January to enjoy a hot chocolate party!

New Classroom Opens in NHS School Ellsworth

Students at NHS School Ellsworth were excited to see the new classroom that was built when they came back from winter break. Before the break, the teachers discussed with middle school students the opening of a new autism classroom. Because the teachers prepared the students for the transition into their new classroom, the students adjusted very well and were eager to explore the new surroundings and interact with their peers.

New Classroom Opens in NHS School Ellsworth

A Classroom in Ellsworth Creates Gingerbread Men

Ellsworth Creates Gingerbread MenMiss Leann's class in Ellsworth completed a Life Skills and Home Economics Christmas Project on December 20. The students created gingerbread men while listening to a story. Each student assisted in mixing ingredients, rolling the dough, and using the cookie cutters to make each gingerbread man.

Thanksgiving Feast

On Tuesday, November 20, 2012 the NHS School in Ellsworth will be travelling to our neighboring NHS School in Herminie, PA. We will be participating in a Thanksgiving Feast for our students. At Herminie, our students will interact with other students from the schools for the day. We will feast on delicious food donated by various sponsors. Our students will have the opportunity to stand on stage in front of their peers to say what they are thankful for this year, as well as read some poetry on Thanksgiving. We look forward to this special event!

Halloween Parade/Party

On October 31, the NHS School Ellsworth celebrated Halloween with a party that included costumes and other fun activities. Parents and volunteers were welcome to attend the party and participate in the activities. The students picked pumpkins that were donated from a local farm, and had a blast playing games, dancing, and walking in a parade.

Local Author and Proud Parent

Tammi Bogan, mother of Seth, a student at NHS School Ellsworth, is a published author of a short book detailing her journey into the world of autism. The book, "Remember the Hot Dog Bun," depicts the life of Seth and his family in the early years of his diagnosis. We are happy and proud to have Seth as a student and delighted to share any information regarding Tammi's wonderful accomplishment as an author. "Remember the Hot Dog Bun" is available for purchase on www.amazon.com.

October is Bullying Prevention Month

Teachers in the Autism and Emotional Support Programs completed bully prevention activities with their students throughout the month of October. The Autism classroom, taught by Leann Downs, viewed cartoon videos on bullying to help students better understand what it looks like. They completed a bullying introduction chart and played a bullying scenarios board game. This class also completed charts on what are examples and non-examples of bullying. The Emotional Support classroom, taught by Megan Roach, made anti-bullying posters, watched videos and had open discussions on the topic. Both classes completed and took part in the Bully Prevention Pledge!

In School Jobs

Throughout the school there are several different in-school jobs for students to participate in. These are based off of the need of the student and the transition program developed by that student's team. These jobs are for students of all ages and help to foster responsibility within each student who participates.

2nd Annual Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser

On March 24, the NHS School in Ellsworth held its first fundraiser. Over 200 individuals came out to support the school, making the fundraiser a huge success. Guests were treated to a dinner of spaghetti, meatballs, salad, rolls, and dessert. All of the food for the event was donated from Julian's Catering, Texas Roadhouse, JETs Food Center, Capelli's Beer and Pop Warehouse, Carmella Gillis, and parent, Tammi Bogan. Guests had the opportunity to bid on 24 different Chinese Auction baskets as well as take their chance at a 50/50 drawing. The baskets ranged from Nemacolin Woodlands gift cards, to Bath and Body Works products. We plan to hold the event again in March 2013, and look forward to raising awareness and funds for our students!