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Andrea Shoap DIR-FT/P

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 Professional Level 2 certification in DIR/Floortime and has completed Stuart Shanker's and Susan Hopkin's Self Reg 101 course for Safe Haven Schools . Andrea continues her love of teaching young people and recruiting/training 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. These original 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            
            Assistant Director                              
Cert. Soc/ Em Beh Wellness K-12                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 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 is currently working on her PhD in Early Childhood Development.


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 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. 

                   Tracy Gable M-ED 
        ES-CCN2 Lead Teacher and 
     ES-CCN Curriculum Supervisor

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              Adam Bramble
   Emotional Health Counselor

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Tracey has a Master’s degree in School Counseling and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and over 25 years of experience in education. Alternative models of education have been her specialty and she has taught at-risk youth, served as an early intervention therapist, geriatric cognitive interventionist, and her passion, working with, and teaching special needs children, particularly on the Autism spectrum. She has worked with children with a wide range of diagnoses such as dysgraphia, dyslexia, ADHD, social-emotional disorders, ASD, and trauma. She has used Montessori Methodology in her teaching and completed her dissertation on Montessori integration and how to train others to utilize these methods to increase cognitive function and achieve optimal social-emotional health in a learning environment. She specializes in executive function and sensory integration and believes that learning happens when a child is well-regulated in body, mind, and spirit.  She believes that the education of a child is an organic experience where the child feels safe and calm and part of a learning community.  

In her free time, Tracey can be found on a running trail and spending time with her children and husband.

Adam was born and raised in Delaware to a family experienced in the medical field. Early in his high school career, he fell in love with psychology and helping others. This combined with his love for working with kids through his martial arts career helped him to decide to pursue an education in clinical mental health counseling. He first graduated with his associates in Human Services through Del Tech, and then finished his Bachelors in Psychology through Wilmington University. Currently, Adam is working on his Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

In his free time, Adam is a musician and plays to his heart's content. Music runs in his family and he loves to let children express themselves through it. Adam is also a child at heart who enjoys geeking out over Disney, Star Wars, Pokémon, roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, as well as being an avid movie lover.

He hopes to use his childish heart to connect with all the students and staff here at White Clay!”

Phoebe Shoap MS CCC-SLP
Speech anf Language Pathologist

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

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Melissa LaPearl,
ES 1 Lead Teacher

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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.                        

Susan Spotts DIR-FT                               COTA

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Phoebe is an ASHA Certified Speech Language Pathologist who received her masters degree in 2022 from New York University. Phoebe has a wide range of experience from working with the geriatric population in a Skilled Nursing Facility to working with the pediatric population in a school that specializes in the DIR/Floortime approach and is currently finishing her DIR practitioners certification. Phoebe is also certified in Gestalt Language Processing. 
As Andrea's daughter, she has been apart of The White Clay School’s journey  throughout her life - to include both as a student in her mom's school and then later as an assistant teacher. She is thrilled to be back now at White Clay as an SLP.  

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.

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.

                  Claire Werkiser
       ES Classroom Lead Teacher

                 Sydney Jones
           ES-CCN Co Teacher

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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 and is currently completing her DIR practitioners certification.  Sydney enjoys being creative and planning group activities for the students in her classroom.

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. 

              Nicolette Fatorri DIR-FT


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.

              Dusan Segan DIR-FT
               ES Teacher 


Kyra Sylvester DIR-FT
       ES Asstistant            Teacher/SLPA

                         Franco Piperis
ES Teacher


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. 

Marissa Stigler
ES-CCN Co Teacher

Marissa is a seasoned professional in childcare and education. She grew up and resides in Chester County with her husband, son and pup. An alumnus of Oxford Area High School, she continued her education at West Chester University in Elementary Education and is also currently completing her DIR practitioners certification. Throughout her carreer, Marissa has dedicated herself to working with students on the Autism Spectrum, striving to tailor the learning environment to each individual's unique needs. In her downtime, Marissa is an avid reader of thriller novels and can usually be found with a warm, delicious cup of coffee in hand.

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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.

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. 

  Melody Clark 
Transition Teacher

     Bill Marinelli
Transition Teacher

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Bill is a graduate of West Chester University. Bill started in the special needs community age 22 at the Devereux  school. There, he was a direct support professional and a class aid.  Bill moved up to be a program coordinator before his departure into the adult ASD world as a community integration specialist.  Bill then transferred to West Chester University as a store manger and job trainer for their autistic support program with their undergrads.  After 4 years in that program, Bill decided to get back into the school side of things at The White Clay School. 

Victoria Clemm

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My name is Tori Clemm and I have a BS in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Youth and Social Justice from Penn State Univeristy. I also am a licensed COTA and attended Delaware Tech to receive that associates degree. I have been working with children since I was 15 years old in a variety of settings and age groups through the YMCA. Something unique about me is the fact that I have one hand. Being apart of the limb difference community has allowed me to get different perspectives when working with unique children. Everyone has individual needs even with a similar diagnosis. I have learned through making accommodations even for myself, that it is different in any situation. This allows me to have an open mind and something to relate to when it comes to working with children.

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