Karen Ann Gill
City/State: Bloomingdale, IL
School/Organizations: Marklund Day School
1) How has earning the Certified Autism Specialist been meaningful and satisfying?
I am the Director of Education for Marklund Day School, a non-public special education school that presently partners with 23 public school districts to provide services to students with profound developmental disabilities. I pursued the Certified Autism Specialist Credential as an entrusted confirmation of providing my students the most current best practices and methodology. As a result, more and more of my staff has been awarded or is currently pursuing their CAS credentials at Marklund Day School.
2) How has the CAS credential effected your professional growth?
Marklund Day School has plans to expand with a $4 million state-of-the-art building and program that focuses specifically on children on the autism spectrum. With the CAS credential, I confidently participated with a design team in designing the new facility.
3) What changes need to be made in your work environment?
It has become my organization’s goal to provide CAS staff at Marklund Day School. Teachers, Therapist and Paraprofessionals at Marklund Day School are invested in acquiring CAS credentials to support our growing autism program.
4) How do you like to be recognized, acknowledged and rewarded for a job well done?
My student’s individual successes and achievements are my rewards of a job well done.
5) What is your greatest challenge or roadblock?
The Marklund organization has been providing services to a mutli-needs population for over 60 years. The Marklund Day School has two separate programs which serves both multi needs and autism populations. It is my desire to educate the public more about our innovative autism program so we can empower more students to achieve their potential and independence.
6) What makes you feel like a valuable contributor?
I became an educator because I wanted to help children overcome their limitations. As a child I was physically impaired with a prognosis of becoming non ambulatory in time if I didn’t undergo a medical procedure. The procedure was a success; I was even able to compete in two NCAA Division I sport teams and overcome my limitation. I am feel so fortunate to be a Certified Autism Specialist by making everyday life possible for my students.
7) What support, tools/resources, skills or empowerment do you need to be more effective?
I attend workshops, conference and classes that keep me current and empowered in making the best decisions for the growth of my school and the individual programing of my students.
8) What strengths or talents do you possess that aren’t being used?
I love nature! I’ve taught kids adventure education, camping, canoeing and high ropes courses. I hope to provide these opportunities to my students in the future.
9) What de-motivates you?
Not having the opportunity to try…the smallest achievement can make such an impact (ripple effect.)