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Andrea Shoap DIR-FT

School Founder/Director 

Andrea Shoap is White Clay School's, Founder and Executive Director. She graduated from Penn State in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and a minor in Biology. Andrea went directly into teaching and taught in various grades for a few years in the Kennett Square and Avon Grove school districts, as well as in the Tower Hill School in Wilmington, DE. Andrea and her husband Michael then spent two years at the Iraklion Air Force Base on the island of Crete, where Andrea taught for the Department of Defense.

Andrea and Michael returned home to the U.S. in 1992. She opened up her preschool in 1993, just after her first child was born, in order to provide the best of schools for her children, as well as other families who were interested in an individualized alternative approach to education. After several years of evolving and perfecting her program, White Clay School became an accredited K-12 nonpublic school in 2000 and an accredited DIR school in 2022. Andrea over the years has followed the latest science in child educational development and has taken a wide variety of trainings in: Play Therapy,  Trauma Crisis Intervention, Developmental Individual Differences Relationship-based/Floortime and specific learning disabilities.  

Andrea continues guide her school and certified staff as one that provides excellence in development and growth for neurodiverse learners, through understanding, differentiating and enhancing learning strengths and deficits in all of her students.  She has recently received her certification in DIR/Floortime. Andrea continues her love of teaching young people and recruiting the most brilliant certified specialists and experts who share her school's approach as they continually introduce the latest in programming at White Clay.

Andrea and her husband Michael have three adult kids (Wesley, Seth and Phoebe),  all of whom spent their elementary and middle school years with her at White Clay, being educated by Andrea and her team. Those first White Clay students are now two surgeons and a speech and language pathologist, and her most supportive WC alumni. Michael and she still  live in the family's renovated barn in the heart of the White Clay Creek Preserve in Landenberg, PA. Besides her family, Andrea is passionate about running and yoga, riding her horses, knitting, hiking, gardening and always keeping up on the latest that child development and educational research has to offer.

Our Lead Faculty

        Jill Kern, M.ED DIR-FT                                  John Pont 
           Assistant Director 
Cert. Soc/ Em Beh Wellness K-12         Emotional Support Specialist                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 Meghan Perricone MS-CCC-SLP                               DIR-FT
Speech and Language Pathologist

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Jill grew up in Northumberland County before graduating from Elizabethtown College with a bachelor's degree in Child Psychology.  Following Elizabethtown College, she obtained her masters of education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in reading

disorders from Wilmington University.  She has completed her  Masters in Applied Family and Child Science with a concentration on Trauma and Resilience through Wilmington University and is certified in Trauma Informed Care (TIC). 

 

Jill has 10+ years teaching children in both the classroom setting and a one-to-one setting.   She has worked with individuals with a wide range of diagnoses including autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, trauma, and ADHD.

 

Jill is Orton-Gillingham certified through the Orton-Gillingham Academy.  She also has training in vision difficulties and the effect they have on children’s reading abilities. Jill is a trained DIR Professional and is in the process of becoming DIR Certified. 
 

Jill believes that every child has the right to succeed in the classroom despite whatever challenges they may face.  She strives to provide children with the tools to enjoy reading in addition to their success with it. 

Meghan is a certified Speech Language Pathologist with professional experience in public schools, private schools, pediatric outpatient, short term rehab and home health therapy settings.  She earned her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Penn State University in 2001. Meghan has experience working with children with apraxia, articulation and phonological disorders, executive function disorders, language disorders, fluency disorders, autism, and AAC.  She has a passion for teaching social skills and is always researching new content to implement into therapy sessions.  She is an ASHA ACE award recipient.  Meghan has completed the DIR 201 certification course and also has her Gestalt Language Learner certification. She is a certified yoga instructor and enjoys bringing her therapy dog Izzy to school while working with the students. 

Melissa LaPearl,  ES 1 Lead Teacher

Justine Kinnaird
Reading Intervention

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Patti Delaney M.S, OTR/L, SIPT, has over 25 years experience as an occupational therapist specializing in Sensory Integration and Floortime interventions to improve engagement for those with developmental delays, Autism and managing trauma. 

 

Patti holds a Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy as well as post-graduate certifications in Sensory Integration,  Autism and Feeding. She is DIR Level 2 Certified and holds certifications as a Master Adaptive and Special Needs Instructor in Individual and Group Fitness, Special Needs Nutrition, Adaptive Kickboxing and as a Life Skills Coach.  She has extensive experience in behavioral supports, assistive technology and the integration of modalities to promote engagement and connection in learning and relationship building. 

 

Patti is also the founder of RISE Purpose for All, and author of R.E.A.D.Y, a self protection program for caregivers and those with developmental differences.  She provides consultation, mentorship, advocacy, as well as community and home based programming.

 

Patti lives in Chester County with her husband and three boys, dogs and cats and  when she is not supporting her boys on the wrestling mats, she enjoys being active in all things outside, reading, cycling, hiking and completing triathlons. 

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 Melissa  moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania in 2014 and we’ve never looked back, especially with the much milder winters! I have been part of the White Clay School team for the last five years. I attended Bay Path University and APU and obtained my degree in Psychology.  I began my career as a Developmental Therapist assisting children who were experiencing developmental delays. I then moved to the public school system and began working as a Behavior Therapist.  During this time, I worked with a variety of grade levels ranging from K through 5th in both general and special education settings. I believe every child is unique and deserves a caring, inspiring and engaging atmosphere to grow emotionally, intellectually and socially.  Throughout my career, I have always strived to help the children I’ve worked with to meet their fullest potential.  Outside of school, I enjoy reading, going to the movies, traveling to warm beaches, shopping and spending time with my family and friends.                        

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Justine Kinnaird has an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Rhetoric and Political Science.  After a professional career in sales, business management and college recruiting she returned to school completing a Masters Degree in Special Education at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Justine pursued continuous education and training in educational  Pedagogy, The Emotional and Social Wellbeing of Children with Autism, the Wilson Reading System, Visualizing and Verbalizing and a year long cohort in balanced literacy. She was also mentored and trained by a PhD Educational Diagnostician to identify and address reading deficits. Most recently, Justine completed DIR-101 training and is a DIR FloorTime professional.

Justine has worked as a Special Education teacher (grades 3-8) for over 13 years.  She was state-certified in both Wisconsin and Massachusetts and worked with a wide variety of learning differences in both inner city and suburban environments.  She returned to Pennsylvania and joined WC as a Reading Interventionist in 2019. Justine has been married to Malcolm for 28 years and is the mother of three adult children.  She is active in a variety of community volunteering efforts including serving as a member on the Advisory Committee for Sensory Friendly Programming at the Brandywine River Museum.

 

John Pont brings many years of experience to his role as White Clay’s Trauma/Crisis Specialist. Prior to joining our team, he served as a lead crisis interventionist at a therapeutic school for students with severe emotional and learning challenges. He has provided training on best practices in crisis prevention and management, including emotional co-regulation, de-escalation, and trauma-informed care. As he has done throughout his career, John strives to promote a safe, supportive learning environment, where students and staff continually grow and learn from each other.

 Emily Bratek MS-CCC-SLP DIR-FT
Speech and Language Pathologist

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Emily is an ASHA Certified Speech Language Pathologist. She received her Master's in Speech Language Pathology from Florida State University in 2018. Emily was called to this career when her brother was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and saw the amazing impact that speech and language services had on his communication skills. Emily specialized in autism services during her graduate studies and completed an internship at the University of Washington's Autism Center. She has worked with children from ages 2-22 in both the public school system and home health settings. She has special interests in the areas of augmentative alternative communication (AAC), parent coaching, and social skills. She will be working towards her DIR Floortime training this summer. Emily aims to provide a welcoming and fun atmosphere for therapy while helping children and their families grow their speech and language skills for their functional, vocational, social, and academic needs. Outside of school, Emily is a new mom to a little baby girl. Her and her husband are enjoying the new scenery and season changes that Pennsylvania brings in family walks with their dog.

Patti Delaney MS, OTR/L, SIPT DIR-FT
           Occupational Therapist

         Tracy Schubert                                                   
Lead ES Transition Teacher                  

      Crystal Stevens
   ES 2 Lead Teacher

           Julianna Harry
Lead ES-CCN Primary 2

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Tracy graduated with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, Special Education K-8 from University of Delaware (2000).   After teaching in a general education classroom for 5 years, she transitioned to working in a therapeutic field and worked for 10 years at Delaware Vision Academy.  She worked closely with a team of professionals to treat children and adults with visual related learning difficulties, strabismus, and traumatic brain injuries.  She has worked with individuals with a wide range of diagnoses including autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia, trauma, and ADHD.

 

Tracy joined White Clay School in 2018 and has embraced being able to bridge her therapeutic and academic experience with her students.  She strives to foster a loving and nurturing environment for her students to feel comfortable to learn and grow.  Tracy is a trained DIR Professional and is in the process of becoming DIR Certified.  She is also trained in the Wilson Fundations K-3 Reading and Language program.

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Crystal  graduated from Oxford Area High School in 2005.  She  has many years of personal experience with the special education as I am a mother of a child with autism.  I built my knowledge working with my daughter, attending many IEP meetings, researching, being proactive with therapies needed in and out of the education setting, and most importantly being her number 1 advocate. Becoming a teacher was not an interest until 2016 when I became a personal care assistant working with students on a one to one need in the Oxford Area School District.  I then went on to become a manger running a group home for those who could not live alone and needed much support with daily living and medical care. My clients were diagnosed  with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (IDD).  I missed working in the school setting with children it was then that I had realized my calling and passion was to become a teacher to help support and guide those with special education. In June of 2018, I enrolled at Grand Canyon University where I will receive my dual Bachelors degree in elementary education and special education.  In addition I am certified in Safety Care and will complete my certification for DIR (Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based). 

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 Juliana Harry, I graduated from Adelphi University with a Degree in Education,  a minor in Speech and Audiology, and a degree in American Sign Language. She is  also a  Certified Behavior Therapist, certified in the TEACCH Approach and certified in CPR. 

    Juliana taught as a special Ed teacher in New York for 18 years. She started as a special Ed preschool teacher teaching students through ABA approach , and 5 years taught special Ed middle school students through TEACCH approach. She's led parent-teacher meetings, provided lessons plans, and written IEPs.  

      Juliana believes that providing an innovative, stimulating learning environment for children can help them achieve so much. She's been a part of the wonderful White Clay Team since December of 2021, and has now embraced their relationship based approach and has since become  trained in DIR/Floortime

      Emily Kochanowicz DIR-FT
Speech and Language Tech

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Emily grew up in Montgomery County and attended Temple University. She graduated from Temple with a B.A. in Liberal Arts with a focus in English Literature and a Minor in Spanish. She was considering pursuing a career in English as a second language when she discovered the field of Speech Pathology. She then completed her B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders with LaSalle University. Emily currently works at White Clay as a licensed SLPA/Speech Tech with plans to obtain her Master’s degree and become a Speech Language Pathologist. She has recently been trained in DIR and working towards her SLPA certification with ASHA. In her free time she enjoys hiking the trails of the Wissahickon and trying new restaurants! 

          Sydney Jones
ES-CCN Assistant Teacher

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                  Claire Werkiser
       ES Classroom teacher

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A Kennett Square native and the daughter of a veterinarian and a farrier, Claire Werkiser graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 after majoring in both English and Communications, as well as completing certificate programs in Children's Literature and Theatre. She received an MFA from New York University in 2019 and has previously taught creative writing at both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and New York University. Her own creative work has earned publication, awards, fellowships, and residencies in multiple genres. She has worked as an editor for numerous literary journals and as the curator for the Emerging Writers Reading Series in Manhattan. Familial caregiving responsibilities brought Claire back to Chester County during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which she worked at a vaccination clinic and as a Teaching Assistant at Benchmark School in Media, PA. When not teaching at White Clay, Claire spends her time outdoors - foraging, kayaking, and trying to hug the wildlife. 

              Dusan Segan
               ES Teacher 

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              Nicolette Fatorri DIR-FT
                          COTA

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Nicolette News grew up and resides in Delaware County. Nicolette has a bachelor’s degree in

Kinesiology from West Chester University and an associates degree from St. Catherine’s University in science and became a certified occupational therapy assistant, licensed in Pennsylvania. Since the passing of her boards, she has worked in early education and school-based therapy. Nicolette comes to White Clay with experience and passion for the life skills in addition to working with children diagnosed

with ASD, learning disorders and sensory processing disorder. Nicolette approaches each therapy session with compassion and empathy knowing that each child relates and learns at their own unique levels. Outside of school Nicolette enjoys spending time with her new husband and fur-babies.

                         Franco Piperis
                            ES Teacher

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Taylor Wallace DIR-FT
                 COTA

          

Sydney Jones grew up in Maryland. She moved to Pennsylvania to study Psychology at

Widener University in 2015. While in college she aided at Elwyn Children’s Behavioral Health

for 2 years, getting her first experience in the field with first grade aged children. After

graduating with a BA in Psychology, Sydney moved to Delaware to work at Devereux

Advanced Behavioral Health. She spent 2 years working there, through Covid and staff

shortages. Sydney worked with a range of students aging from 16-21 while at Devereux. She came to White Clay School in January of 2022.  Sydney enjoys being creative and planning group activities for the students in her classroom.

Dusan grew up in Serbia where he earned a degree as a speech and language pathologist. He moved to the US five years ago and has since worked with students with special needs in reading and language arts. He most recently worked in Reading Assist and as an emotional support counselor and the Chester Charter School . He resides in Elkton, MD with his wife and new baby. 

Graduated from West Chester University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.  Worked at the Glen Mills Schools for 16 years as a counselor/teacher, and GED teacher/ Coordinator. Also worked a year at Valley Youth House as a life Skills Counselor, and 2 years at the Kennett High School as a Special Education I.A. in the Life Skills classroom.

Susan Spotts DIR-FT
            COTA

        Cimmaron Flores DIR-FT
                      COTA

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Taylor has been a resident of Pennsylvania her whole life. During college, Taylor experienced clinical work in several different settings including pediatric settings, adult rehabs, hospitals, schools, etc. Also during college, she was selected from her class to present her adapted candyland game which used the Zones of Regulation at the POTA conference to other occupational therapy students and staff. She graduated Harcum College's Occupational Therapy Assistant program in 2019 with the Emerging Leader Award for Extraordinary Service Early in Her Occupational Therapy Career. Following graduation, Taylor passed her OT boards to become certified and worked in school settings assisting preschoolers with various developmental delays work towards and reach their OT goals. Aside from Taylor's OT experience, she has always worked with children in daycare settings and nanny positions and fully believes in a holistic therapeutic approach to motivate and encourage kids to discover and follow their passions. She looks forward to becoming DIR certified and much more! 

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Susan is a practitioner of occupational therapy who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Science from West Chester University and an associate’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Harcum College. She works with children as a school-based therapist and comes to the White Clay School with experience working with pediatrics, autism, environmental modifications, adaptive technology, hippo-therapy, emotional support, and learning disorders. Susan is known to use a holistic approach in her therapy sessions allowing her to connect and celebrate each individual.

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Cimmaron Flores was born in Dallas, TX but raised in Pottstown, PA. Cimmaron graduated from Pottstown High school in 2010 and began a 7+ years career working with children as a teacher at a daycare where she received hands-on experience with utilizing a teach through play method and gained knowledge about child development. However, all her life Cimmaron has had a passion for children and helping them bloom. So in 2018, Cimmaron chose to pursue an associate's degree in science as an occupational therapy assistant. Cimmaron graduated in 2021 from Harcum College, located in Bryn Mawr, PA, and became a licensed and certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) in the state of PA. Cimmaron is excited about this new career path at The White Clay School and is looking forward to building new relationships, becoming DIR/Floortime certified, and completing her bachelor's degree shortly. Outside of school, Cimmaron enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her cat Rhona Moon while obtaining more knowledge because occupational therapy is where science, creativity, and compassion collide. 

  Melody Clark 
Transition Teacher

Kyra Sylvester DIR-FT
ES Asstistant Teacher

       David Besser
         ES Teacher

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Kyra graduated from West Chester University with a bachelors degree in Communication and Speech Disorders. She also has an associates in Psychology. Kyra came to White Clay after working 13 years as a certified nursing assistant. She lives in Wilmington, DE with her 4 boy, two cats and two dogs. Kyra enjoys shopping and riding motorcycles with her husband. 

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