In parallel with the servcies offered at its Center and partner schools, SKILD continues to organize training seminars and workshops that are highly relevant to the needs of special educators in Lebanon today. The latest was a workshop focused on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)  led by Dr. Tonia Crane, Assistant Professor of Special Education at the Oklahoma Baptist University.

Towards the end of her very condensed schedule in Lebanon, we had the following chat with Dr. Crane:

You’re aware of Lebanon’s fairly young journey in the Special Needs field.  What would you describe as the highlights of what you saw and heard during your visit?

What I found very rewarding was the interaction with the professionals that I had the opportunity to meet.  The desire to learn the material and the questions asked showed me how interested they were in the topic of ABA.  A variety of professionals were present from teachers, psychologists, special education directors, therapists, etc. which made the discussion interesting because everyone could see not just how ABA could be implemented in their own area but in others as well.  This is how change in programs evolves by gaining the knowledgebase of how the areas in special education are all connected.  I enjoyed the enthusiasm from all who attended.  It was evident how passionate they were about working with students with special needs.

There were so many things about the trip that stand out.  I guess if I had to pick one I would say working with the SKILD teachers and director at the center while evaluating students.  Talking to the parents and giving them a shimmer of hope in their child’s prognosis are the moments that I reflect on the most.

What stood out to you the most in interactions with SKILD TEACHERS?

These teachers are phenomenal.  They are very competent, strong, and passionate about what they do.  It is not a job to them; it is a ministry to touch the lives of these children. My first thought going into the center was that with so many females in one building I would see much drama before the week ended. What I saw was a family.  A family that worked together during the day and were friends after hours.  This group is solid in what they are doing and what their goal is for the future.  The excitement in their voices and how they wanted to learn everything they could in such a short period of time was touching.  Their commitment was evident.  They stayed late many evenings just to see me evaluate a child in order to gain more insight.  They are all top notch and under the leadership of Hiba, I have no doubt that SKILD will continue to grow and change the field of special education.  The prognosis for children with special needs will change because of the professionals who are working at SKILD.  

What is unique here is that it is not about changing the services offered for special needs in their local area but about changing the culture in Lebanon.  This is very inspiring.  The other area that makes it unique is having a place for parents that offer not just special education teaching but evaluations and therapies as well.  This makes it more convenient to families to have all areas in one center.  This is a rare find.

I hope they know how wonderful they are and how I believe in what they are doing.  The road is long and tiring for what they are trying to accomplish but the reward is great.  Whether it is changing the culture of special education or simply changing a child’s behavior it will not be easy.  However with the competent/intelligent professionals at SKILD I have complete confidence in their abilities.  They are already changing lives in the realm of special education and will continue because they are a family who has the same mission and heart for touching the lives of families with special needs.

What do you hope this seminar contributed to the SKILD PROGRAM?

I hope they feel more confident in addressing a child’s behavior with ABA methodologies.

Dr.  Crane has a bachelor’s degree in special education, a master’s degree in instructional leadership and a doctorate in exceptional learning from Tennessee Technological University. Her vast experience in the area of Applied Behavior Analysis opened up the opportunity for much interaction between the participants who came from various private educational institutions.  

Rachel Schenkel  | August 2013

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