Fred Rogers Room

Meet the TaC Team

Amy Cavalier ([email protected]) earned her undergraduate degree from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia in elementary and special education in 2001. In 2005, she earned her master’s degree in reading from California University of Pennsylvania, and most recently she obtained her ESL certificate. She taught in public education for 20 years serving in roles of general education, special education, and reading specialist. She worked as an educational consultant at PaTTAN in the areas of MTSS, Literacy, Inclusive Practices, and English Language Learners. Amy has a passion for supporting teachers as they implement evidence-based practices, especially those that align with the science of reading. She greatly enjoys facilitating LETRS trainings across the county. Amy’s most recent work has led to her selection to present at the Reading League’s Annual Conference.
Kelly Heitchue ([email protected]) supports the Behavior and Autism Initiatives at Westmoreland Intermediate Unit. She has been employed by the WIU for 26 years. Kelly began her career in the San Francisco Bay Area, delivering Applied Behavior Analysis services in a private educational facility and in home to children with Autism and Behavioral Disorders. She continued furthering her education and training in ABA through completing coursework and achieving certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Her classes and field experiences were taught and supervised under the direction of some of the national leaders such as Vince Carbone and Mark Sundberg. She then received additional certification through the Penn State Autism Program. Kelly holds Independent Facilitator Status at Tiers 1 and 2 through Pennsylvania's Positive Behavior Support Network, providing team training in the installation of School-wide Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions to local school districts. She has completed additional training to acquire trainer status in several interventions including I Can Problem Solve, Raising a Thinking Child, Check and Connect, RENEW, and Non-violent Crisis Intervention, maintaining instructor certification for 25 years.
Candice ([email protected]) obtained her Bachelors and Masters Degree in Communication Science and Disorders from the University of Pittsburgh. She began her career working as an Early Intervention Speech-Language Pathologist with the WIU. After seven years, Candice transitioned into the Assistive Technology Specialist role in 2014. Her speech-language background has proven to be valuable in supporting Augmentative and Alternative Communication, AAC, throughout Westmoreland County. Candice holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology as a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA. She also holds a state license in the field. Candice is a member of the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit’s Deaf-Blind Resource Team supporting students, families, and school teams within the county and beyond. Additionally, Candice trains and supports schools using Unique Learning System and has served as an IU team member for Project MAX. Candice has a passion for ensuring that all students have a voice and have access to their curriculum. She regularly attends state-level and national conferences to expand her knowledge and keep current with ever-changing technology.
Mindy ([email protected]) completed her undergraduate degree in Elementary and Special Education and obtained graduate degrees in Curriculum and Instruction, Secondary Transition, and School Administration Supervision. She holds PA teaching certification in Supervision of Special Education, Principal, elementary education, special education, and middle school science. She spent ten years as a special education teacher before joining the TaC team in 2013. She has received a National Certificate of Achievement in Employment Services from Virginia Commonwealth University, part of the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE) certification. Mindy annually attends and has presented at the state transition conference in order to stay abreast of and share current trends in secondary transition. She also participates in the state Community of Practice on Secondary Transition. Within her role as the Transition TaC, she has created and shared various resources to support transition planning to include several Live Binders on teacher resources and transition assessment. She researched and developed a travel training program, Learning Independence for Travel (LIFT), and a community-based independent living program, Living Independently in the Community (LINC). She is knowledgeable of Indicator 13 (transition aged IEP development) and indicator 14 (post-secondary outcomes) requirements and provides training and consultation to educational staff throughout Westmoreland County in these areas as well as transition planning, assessment, and agency connection. She has been instrumental in the development of a local transition and employment mini-conference that provides students in Westmoreland County with various opportunities to explore career preparation skills such as self-advocacy, portfolio development, and interviewing skills. In addition, she began Transition Coordinator Meetings as a way to support district-level transition coordinators and provide them an opportunity to network with each other, while still maintaining the traditional Local Transition Coordinating Council (LTCC) that sponsors various local events/resources to support the county in preparing our youth with disabilities and their families for transition beyond high school.
After receiving a Dual-Bachelors Degree in Special/Elementary Education from California University of PA, Marissa Rega ([email protected]) began her career in education at the WIU 20 years ago as a special education teacher. Through her teaching tenure, she supported students in various classroom settings. Marissa has demonstrated leadership as she helped launch several classroom and school-wide initiatives and piloted programs, such as LETRS Literacy, Project Max, and SWPBIS. As an educator, Marissa served for many years on Student Assistance Program (SAP) teams and helped establish a SWPBIS program at a center-based school, both of which have received statewide recognition for high fidelity. She has also presented at state forums on the topics of Mental Health and Positive Behavior Support in alternative school settings. Because of her desire to provide greater support to students with mental/behavioral health needs, Marissa pursued a Master's Degree in Counseling at Cal U and graduated in 2016 as a Certified School Counselor. She transitioned as the WIU's Mental Health Specialist, in which she provided individual and group school-based counseling services to students with a wide range of mental health needs. Marissa joined the WIU TaC team in 2017 to train and consult in the areas of Positive Behavior and Mental Health Initiatives. She is a certified instructor through the Crisis Prevention Institute, a Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support Network Facilitator, a Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor, and an Educational Trauma Practitioner as well.
With over two decades of dedicated focus, Natalie Smith ([email protected]) provides expertise in supporting students in the least restrictive environment. Recognized as an ARC of Westmoreland Educator of the Year, Natalie conducted early reading research and curriculum development that led to a 30% increase in early reading skills of children with disabilities program-wide. Natalie has been the co-chairperson of the Local Interagency Coordinating Council and the Local Task Force, leading committees in creating school and parent support. Natalie has served as one of only seven state leads in Educator Effectiveness and has trained over 4000 teachers and administrators state-wide to improve educator and principal practices. She has trained on topics in special education and inclusion locally, regionally, and state-wide. Her work in inclusive practices and Universal Design for Learning has supported hundreds of teachers to presume competence and remove barriers for students with disabilities in the general education classroom. As a special education supervisor for ten years, Natalie was immersed in compliance monitoring and created policies and procedures for improving practices in special education. She has received extensive training in inclusive practices by Dr. Marilyn Friend and has been trained by Charlotte Danielson. Natalie carries certifications in special education, early childhood education, reading specialist, supervisor of special education, and superintendent letter of eligibility. Her current research in supporting students with traumatic brain injury in inclusive settings adds to her role as BrainSTEPS team leader for Westmoreland County. Natalie additionally serves as the Gifted Liaison for Westmoreland County and works alongside PDE in providing training and consultation in gifted education compliance and best practices.

Sarah ([email protected]) earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Elizabethtown College and then furthered her education at Boston University, obtaining a Post Professional Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy. Sarah has spent over 15 years in the school systems, supervising therapists and evaluating and treating students with various fine motor and sensory processing needs. Sarah brings her occupational therapy background and expertise to the area of Assistive Technology (AT). To further her knowledge, she recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Certificate in Assistive Technology, and she continually attends professional development to stay current on the ever-changing field of AT. Sarah is NBCOT Board Certified with a Practice Area Emphasis in Schools and is licensed as an occupational therapist in the state of Pennsylvania. Sarah has presented at state and national level Occupational Therapy Association conferences and provides continuing education and consultation to school district teams related to all areas of assistive technology.