Eden Autism’s Teaching Assistants make a big impact throughout the school

Tanya Lynn Sacco, Eden’s School Support Coordinator, has a lot in common with her colleagues. She’s one of many employees who started their career as a Teaching Assistant and grew within the organization. 

“I can say that I learned more in my first month at Eden as a TA than I did in any other role in this field that I’ve ever had,” said Tanya. “It’s the best hands-on experience you’ll ever gain.”

While every employee has their own unique journey that led them to Eden, starting as a TA is a common factor among many employees. And it’s an important role — Eden’s TAs impact nearly every aspect of the school.

“We put a lot of professional development into the training of our TAs,” said Dr. Cindy Bott-Tomarchio, Director of Educational Services. TAs are given a solid foundation in ABA training, data collection, and graphing the data. They even get a glimpse into the analysis of the data that is done at higher levels. This exposure to different areas often helps TAs discover their passion and niche within the field — something Cindy understands well herself.

Cindy began her career as a TA at Eden, and it was working with Eden’s students that led her to further pursue working with individuals with autism. “Nothing really grounded me to this population as much as working at Eden because we are so hands-on,” she said. 

Eden’s Teaching Assistants are responsible for students’ data collection. That data is then used by teachers, behavior analysts, and speech therapists to make decisions about the students’ programs. 

The TAs are definitely the core of what we do here,” said Cindy. “We’re a whole team and we all have a working part, but the TAs are really at the center of everything.”

While some TAs pursue opportunities outside of Eden, the individuals who stay within the organization build a special bond with their colleagues and students.

“It’s a family culture at Eden, and it’s completely different than in the public school setting,” said Jennifer Binkley, Teacher Coordinator of Educational Assessment. “We are much more entwined with the parents and there’s such a stronger relationship between the TAs and the kids. It’s amazing to see the kids grow up.”

No matter how long TAs are part of the Eden family, they are truly an integral part of Eden’s mission.

“Whether they’re here for a short time with us or they stay for years, I think that it’s important for them to realize how valued and valuable they are,” said Cindy.