Jimmy Wittmer- Rider; Teacher Candidate, Special Education and Middle Grades Education Dual-Certification Program; Concentration in Social Studies
Jimmy is currently an undergraduate student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania pursuing a dual teaching certification in special education and middle grades education with a concentration in social studies. Jimmy was diagnosed with a specific learning disability in 2nd grade and remained in a self-contained special education class until 6th grade. For the past three summers, he has worked as a classroom teaching assistant in extended school year programs for autism support and multiple-disability classrooms. Here his passion for serving individuals with disabilities continues to grow. Jimmy also participated with Liz and Corinne in a week long service learning project in a school for students with disabilities, including individuals with autism, on the island of Eleuthera. As a teenager, Jimmy rode dirt bikes and four-wheelers. He got his first street bike 2 years ago and immediately fell in love with the road. Jimmy maintains current motorcycle safety course certifications. Barring snow, Jimmy is on his bike. He is a passionate outdoorsman who loves being one with nature. His love of bike, nature and a few words from Into the Wild “the very basic core of a man’s spirit is his passion for adventure” has inspired his trip to Alaska.
Liz Simpson- Webmaster; Teacher Candidate, Secondary Special Education and English Education Dual-Certification Program
Liz is currently an undergraduate student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania pursuing a dual teaching certification in special education and English literature. She was inspired to pursue a career in special education through her highschool advisor, Vicki Murphy-Kendall, who embedded her love and passion for teaching students with exceptional abilities within Liz while she served as Vicki’s student aid in her self-contained special education classroom. Through West Chester University’s teacher education program, Liz has spent time observing and working with students in suburban and urban field placements; including students with autism, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, and vision impairments. Liz has participated in various education-based organizations, including the Council for Exceptional Children, Best Buddies, and Pi Lambda Theta National Education Honors Society; and pursued volunteer opportunities through Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity of which she is currently serving as her chapter president. She has also provided respite care for families of children with autism. Liz joined the Alaska Bound for Autism Team after volunteering with Jimmy, Corinne, and fellow classmates and professors in a school for students with disabilities on the island of Eleuthera, Bahamas.
Corinne Murphy- Ph.D., BCBA-D, Executive Director, SPARC
As an undergraduate student at The Ohio State University, Corinne worked her fair share of part-time jobs. From a night assistant in the dorms to a telecaller for the OSU alumni donation drives, she spent her free time searching for ways to keep herself busy. After 5 different part-time jobs, she saw an advertisement in the psychology building for a job “helping Bob to learn.” As it turns out, Bob was a very energetic 5-year-old with autism characterized by non-verbal communication and significant aggression. Through Bob and his team of helpers, Corinne learned about autism and applied behavior analysis or “the science of human behavior.” By the time she graduated, Corinne was leading in-home intervention teams for several families of children with autism in the Columbus area. Upon graduation she accepted a position with Dr. Jacquie Wynn at the newly established Children’s Hospital Autism Center (now Nationwide Children Hospital Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders). There she learned to work with and understand the family perspective in working with individuals with autism. Corinne continued to work at the hospital while she completed Master’s and Ph.D. programs in special education and applied behavior analysis with advisor Dr. William Heward at The Ohio State University. Corinne joined West Chester University in 2006 where she continues to teach undergraduate and graduate courses in behavior management and autism spectrum disorders. Additionally, Corinne has served as the executive director of SPARC since January 2012. Corinne strongly believes that all persons with autism have the right to access evidence-based services delivered by qualified professionals. She believes in the non-profit model and SPARC’s ability to provide such services to families at reasonable rates.