The staff at The Darnell School has significant training and experience in using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) strategies to increase skills and decrease maladaptive behaviors.
Leading each classroom is a Head Teacher who has attained a master’s degree and is licensed to teach by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
Additional staff members include an LPN, a Speech Therapy Assistant, Board Certified Behavior Analysts and paraprofessional assistants.
They work with students on a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio, providing individualized instruction in a highly structured learning environment.
Consultant staff includes an RN, a Speech and Language Pathologist, an Occupational Therapist, a Physical Therapist, and a Doctoral level Behavior Analyst. In addition to academics, occupational, physical, and speech therapies are seamlessly integrated into the school day through this consultation model.
Michele D. Mayer, Ed.S., BCBA, LABA
Senior Vice President of Children’s and Transitional Services
Senior Clinical Director of The Darnell School
Michele Mayer is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and holds an Educational Specialist degree in Behavioral Education from Simmons College. Michele also has a Master’s degree in Special Education with a concentration in Severe Special Needs from Rhode Island College and a B.A. in Psychology from Brown University. Michele has been working in the special education field for more than 35 years, and with HMEA in a variety of positions for more than 30 years. She has specialized in the area of transitional services for more than 20 years, offering consultation to families and school districts. For the last four years, Michele has also been an Adjunct Instructor at Becker College in the Psychology Department teaching and supervising undergraduate students in the Applied Behavior Analysis coursework leading to certification as a BCaBA. A published author of three articles, Michele has presented numerous times at state and national conferences.
Jan Bolton, M.Ed., BCBA, LABA
Jan Bolton is a Licensed Special Education Administrator and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Jan holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, a certificate in graduate work in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas and a B.A. degree from Connecticut College. Jan has worked within the area of disability services for more than 35 years in a range of capacities, and with HMEA for more than 20 years in a variety of positions. Jan has also been an Adjunct Instructor at Becker College and coordinates their student practicum program in Applied Behavior Analysis. A published author, Jan has extensive experience in professional development and has presented seminars, papers, posters, and workshops to school districts, families and at state, national and international conferences on a wide range of topics including Applied Behavior Analysis, Staff Training, Transition Services, Community Inclusion, Civic Participation, Person Centered Planning and Self Determination.
Nicole Heidenheim, M.A., BCBA, LABA
Director of Professional Development
Nicole Heidenheim holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Assumption College and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Framingham State University. She received her BCBA certification in February 2015 and is currently working toward a Master in Education with a specialization in Severe Special Education at Fitchburg State University.
Kari Dunlop, M.S.Ed., BCBA, LABA
Kari Dunlop holds a Master of Science in Special Education from the Sage Graduate School in NY, and is licensed in Moderate Special Needs. She also earned a second Master of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Northeastern University in December 2011, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Kari is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Endicott College. Kari has over 15 years of experience teaching students with autism and other developmental disabilities in both public and private school settings, and she has presented at several state and international Association for Behavior Analysis conferences.
Janet Goossens, M.A., BCBA
Janet Goossens holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a Master of Arts degree in Psychology with a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Massachusetts. She has over 20 years of experience in teaching students with significant disabilities.
Melinda Pizzi, M.S.Ed., BCBA
Melinda Pizzi holds an undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Massachusetts and a Master of Science degree from Simmons College. As a licensed special education teacher, she brings significant experience in teaching students with autism. Melinda is currently enrolled at Endicott College where she is completing coursework in preparation for obtaining her BCBA.
Meghan Coullahan, B.A.
Meghan Coullahan is a licensed special education teacher who holds an undergraduate degree in Special Education from Fitchburg State University. Meghan is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis from Cambridge College. She expects to receive her Master’s Degree in the spring of 2017 and will sit for certification as a behavior analyst.
Michelle Masson, M.S., BCBA, LABA
Michelle Masson holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Merrimack College and a Master of Science degree in Autism Studies from University of Massachusetts Lowell. She received her BCBA certification in November 2015 and is currently working toward a Master in Education with a specialization in Severe Special Education at Fitchburg State University.
The Darnell School has arranged for a variety of specialists to consult to the school on either a regular or as-needed basis.
These consultants include:
- Dr. Robert Shapiro, BCBA-D, Behavior Specialist
- Karla Miller, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist
- Mary Loughlin, M.S., OTR, Occupational Therapist
- Carie Miele, M.S., RPT, Physical Therapist
- TechACCESS, Assistive Technology Specialists
- Amy Neveu, RN, Registered Nurse
- Dr. James Broadhurst, Medical Doctor