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Merakey Merakey Education and Autism Center State College

WELCOME to Merakey Education and Autism Center STATE COLLEGE
(Centre County | 814-237-2870)

The Merakey Education and Autism Center State College provides educational programming in full-time Autistic Support and full-time Emotional Support classrooms to students ages five through 21. A Pennsylvania certified special education teacher and a highly qualified classroom aide lead instruction in each classroom where a low student-to-staff ratio is maintained at all times. Verbal behavior, applied behavior analysis, individualized programming, speech therapy, and occupational therapy services are provided in our school. Cognitive behavioral interventions and therapeutic instruction guided by a Masters-Level Behavior Shaping Specialist enhance our Emotional Support program. We also offer a Building Bridges program, a gender-specific Emotional Support program for girls ages 12-18. Our school works in collaboration with local school districts and community providers to offer individualized and quality education for each student.

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School Address: 1400 Fox Hill Road, #100, State College, PA 16803 (view map)
School Phone Number: 814-353-1093
Education and Autism Services Administration Office Number: 855-530-4853

Joanna Santilli Name: Joanna Santilli
Title: Educational Director
Email: Joanna.Santilli@merakey.org
Amanda CampbellName: Amanda Campbell
Title: School Supervisor
Email: Amanda.Campbell@merakey.org

Trip to CCCTC

(11.2017) - On November 9, students in Ms. Bonnie's SGI High School Autism Room at NHS School State College travelled to the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center to see and experience vocational programs open to 11th and 12th graders via their home district. The students toured the entire facility and asked the instructors and students questions in the three main programs they observed: Carpentry/Construction, HVAC-R, and Informational Technologies. As a surprise to the students, a former NHS student was among those speaking with them in the Informational Technologies Program. This former NHS student strongly encouraged the success of this program, and indicated he would be graduating in 2018. Students were impressed with the depth and scope of the programs presented and had a lot of questions regarding financial aid, which districts could attend, and at what age they could start.

Trip to CCCTC Trip to CCCTC Trip to CCCTC Trip to CCCTC

Trip to CCCTC Trip to CCCTC Trip to CCCTC Trip to CCCTC

A Visit to Penn College

(11.2017) - On November 2, Ms. Bonnie's High School ASD Classroom at NHS School State College travelled to Williamsport, PA to visit the campus of Penn College. The campus tour included the main library, Keystone Dining Hall for lunch, HVAC and Construction, and a final stop at Graphic Arts and Studio Arts programs. The students were met by the Deans of the respective colleges and personally shown the work labs where they observed 1st and 2nd year students utilizing their crafts. Several of the senior students talked to our students, giving them background information in electrical engineering, HVAC, refrigeration tech and plumbing. Our students asked several questions about how the general programs were set up, how to obtain financial aid, and how they would go about advocating their own individual needs to classes in order to be successful.

Students in Ms. Bonnie's High School ASD Classroom at NHS School State College worked on their career/vocational skills and obtained real-life experience in café cooking for their peers on October 27. The students shopped the previous day for the ingredients to make homemade cheese or pepperoni pizza, breadsticks, a sugar cookie and an apple for their peers. The students had to rearrange the classroom, scrub down all the tables with disinfectant, wash their hands and then wear gloves before beginning to work with food. The students weighed out the amounts of dough they would need, rolled and floured it with minimal assistance and shaped it into pans. They had to follow directions for measuring to get the right amount of sauce, cheese and pepperoni on their creations before baking (with adult assistance) in the kitchen. The students received several compliments from peers and staff throughout the building for their wonderful food, and hard work.

NHS School State College Tours Penn College NHS School State College Tours Penn College NHS School State College Tours Penn College

NHS School State College Tours Penn College NHS School State College Tours Penn College NHS School State College Tours Penn College

Tour of Gardners Candy Factory

(10.2017) - On October 24, Sam Gardner, the President of Gardners Candies, graciously took Ms. Bonnie's High School ASD Class for a tour of the Gardners Candy Factory in Tyrone, PA. The students were treated to up close views of all production areas and spoke to employees to gain better insight on job expectations and rules. The students were informed that job shadowing opportunities would be made available to them through their OVR rep/SKILLS rep upon request once they turned 16 and were able to get their clearances.

Tour of Gardner’s Candy Factory Tour of Gardner’s Candy Factory Tour of Gardner’s Candy Factory Tour of Gardner’s Candy Factory

Trip to Hiram G. Andrews Center

(10.2017) - Ms. Bonnie's ASD High School classroom at NHS School State College traveled from State College to Johnstown, PA for a campus tour of the Hiram G. Andrews Center on October 17. The Hiram G. Andrews Center provides a comprehensive program of services featuring pre-employment transition services, counseling, evaluation, and physical restoration in a barrier-free environment. The students were led around the entire campus by one of the administrators, with specific stops in the Architectural Drafting and Construction programs due to high interest. Students from our school were allowed to interact with students and staff, ask questions, and listen in on classroom presentations. In the construction program, the students observed masonry, wall mudding, and electrical work. In the drafting program, the instructor gave each student a recently milled piece that had been designed by a fellow student with Asperger's.

Trip to Hiram G. Andrews Center Trip to Hiram G. Andrews Center Trip to Hiram G. Andrews Center
JustineMy name is Justine. I am 17 years-old and started at NHS in February 2014. The first day I walked in to NHS, I thought it was just like every other placement I have been in; teachers not helping you, just there for a paycheck. NHS is so much different. They care about each and every student in this school. The teachers help you with everything. They listen when you need an ear and are there to share a laugh. These teachers inspire me! NHS changed my life. I only thought about myself but since I started here, I am starting to put other people before me. I have brought in canned food for kids that don't have food at home. I came to NHS because of my behavior in the public school. I know I can control my behavior, but I chose not to. I realize these kids here cannot control their behaviors like I can. These kids probably wish that they could one day control their behavior.

I am graduating high school in June, applying for college, and have signed up for my ACT's. It is all because these teachers will not let me give up! They will make you go the whole way, even if you don't want to. These teachers inspire me! I am who I am today because of all these teachers at NHS! I realized what I want to do with my life when I came here. I just want to say THANK YOU to all the staff at NHS for changing my life!

Lucas Lucas is nine-years-old and started at the NHS School State College when he entered kindergarten in August of 2010. Lucas was quite a challenge when he first started in the elementary Autism classroom. His main struggles were the inability to sit no longer than a minute or two independently. He had impulsive acts to break anything in sight or eat anything he could get his hands on. Lucas couldn't be left alone for any short period of time without exhibiting these behaviors. Sadly, Lucas was unable to communicate his wants or needs with words or signs. Because of his inability to communicate, Lucas would sit at his desk or on the floor and cry all day long. Lucas exhibited many physically aggressive behaviors to staff such as hitting, biting, pinching, and scratching due to his inability to communicate. It was very difficult to take Lucas outside on walks or to the playground because he wanted to run away from the staff members or take his clothes and shoes off to throw them on the school roof.

Lucas is now able to take long walks to the park, just walking beside his aide and not having to hold her hand. He enjoys swinging on the swings and going down the slides. He is such a fun and playful child. He has grown so much over the last several years and his communication is improving with the help of all the staff and working with the speech therapist several hours a week. He has the ability to complete 13 signs and consistently uses three of them. Lucas uses an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device with assistance to help him manage his schedule. Lucas now does all of his work independently at his desk. He needs very little prompting to stay in his seat and on task. Lucas no longer cries when he is given tasks to complete but makes happy sounds. When given a verbal direction, Lucas is able to complete the directive without assistance. For example, if Lucas is asked to go get his lunch box, he will walk out to the hallway by himself, get his lunch box, and then return to his desk. This is a huge step for Lucas! For the first time, Lucas prepared his lunch by putting it in the microwave and pressing all the correct buttons to cook it, completely on his own. Lucas has made many great strides while at the NHS School and continues to impress everyone everyday!

UPDATE: Lucas successfully transitioned back to his home school district at the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

Jeff Jeff is a 16-year-old who was the first student to attend the NHS School State College in September of 2007. When Jeff first started at NHS, he struggled with behavioral outburst almost on a daily basis. He refused to do his school work and was unwilling to learn. Jeff would walk out of the classroom to avoid doing his academic work, especially math, or any other tasks that were given to him. Jeff attempted to skip school on a regular basis. He struggled with making friends and having positive peer interactions. The smallest things would upset him and cause him to be physically aggressive toward his peers, staff, and to cause property damage.

Together, the staff worked with Jeff on different coping skills that could be used to help him calm down, such as looking at his Garfield and Scooby Doo books, taking walks, or talking with staff. Jeff and the teachers also talked about different ways to help him stay calm or about things to do to prevent him from getting so upset and frustrated. He now works hard on all of his school work and is able to earn breaks to look at his books or play his pocket Monopoly video game. He is aware of when he needs a break or needs to talk to a staff member about his feelings. Jeff appropriately asks to leave the classroom when he is frustrated with his peers, rather than just getting up and walking out of class or even the building.

Processing and understanding his emotions is something else that Jeff had a hard time doing. Now, he will pull a staff member to the side just to talk about what is bothering him. He and his teacher have morning check-ins, where Jeff can talk about anything that is bothering him or even something that he is excited about. Jeff has always bottled up his emotions until it is too much for him. Being able to express himself and really talk about his emotions, he is now able to control his behavioral outburst and physical aggression.

Jeff now loves coming to school and gets upset if he has to miss a day. His favorite subjects are science, social studies, and he says on a good day, math! Jeff has built a lot of great friendships with his peers and has become a good role model, encouraging his friends to make good choices and helping the younger students with different projects and activities.
Take a walk around our school and in the classroom!