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University of Florida - Gainesville

Nelda Lopez, Alachua County
Hoggetowne Middle School
CARD Staff: Krestin Radonovich

Nelda Lopez is an ESE teacher in a self-contain classroom at Hoggetowne Middle School in Gainesville. She is also the assistant principal of the school. She is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico and has the autism endorsement from the University of Florida. She is certified in exceptional student education and middle grade integrated; she also has a reading endorsement. She is currently attending the Master Program in Educational Leadership at Nova Southeastern University.

The first time she heard about autism was back in the seventies at the beginning of her career. At that time it was almost like a death sentence if a child was diagnosed with autism since at that time parents were blamed for their kid’s disability. Those were effervescent years were the nation was dealing with an educational system that was struggling and screaming for change. Early in the nineties, specifically 1994, autism hit home when her first granddaughter was diagnosed with autism when she was three. One year later her grandson, who was one at the time, was diagnosed with a developmental disability and mild cerebral palsy.

She brings to the classroom her passion for teaching this group of amazing students but also the experience of the struggle that a family with a kid in the spectrum has to go through.

Proposed Project:

The PEPSA partners will participate in directed readings to learn about the Social Thinking ® curriculum developed by Michelle Garcia Winner. They will participate in a weekly group using this curriculum with children with autism spectrum disorder who are enrolled in the general education program. They will then develop a modified curriculum, as needed, to use in their self-contained ESE classroom for children with autism and other exceptional abilities in order to improve the students’ understanding of social roles within the classroom and community. (With Catherine Flint)

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This product was developed by the Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism, a project funded by the State of Florida, Department of Education, K-12 Public Schools, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services, through federal assistance under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B.
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