Mission of the

WIU TaC Team

  • The mission of the WIU's Training and Consultation (TaC) Team is to support Pennsylvania's special education regulations and initiatives by partnering with our local education agencies to build their capacity to provide both preventive interventions and quality special education services and programs that promote student success. Our team not only provides on-site district support around state-wide initiatives, but also provides information and training on PA Chapter 14 (special education) components to teachers, educational specialists, administrators, paraprofessionals, parents, and families. Customized trainings, technical assistance and on-site support are available in the following areas: Administrator Support, Behavior Support, Paraprofessionals/PCAs, Speech/Communication, Transition, LRE/Inclusion, M.T.S.S, Assistive Technology and Parent/Family Support . The offerings on this site can be tailored to meet your organization's individual needs.
  • if a proposed date is not listed for an offering, click the title of the training to request it for your district.


MEET OUR CONSULTANTS

Candice Hite

Educational Consultant for Assistive Technology

Candice obtained her Bachelors and Masters Degree in Communication Science and Disorders from the University of Pittsburgh. She began her career working as an Early Intervention Speech-Language Pathologist with the WIU. After seven years, Candice transitioned into the Assistive Technology Specialist role in 2014. Her speech-language background has proven to be valuable in supporting AAC throughout Westmoreland county. Candice holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology as a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA. She also holds a state license in the field. Candice continually expands her knowledge and stays current in the field of assistive technology through her participation in monthly regional AT meetings as well as various state-level AT trainings throughout the year. Candice has also supported Project MAX in two teams within our county. This statewide initiative focused on maximizing access to grade level, general education curriculum and Pennsylvania standards for children with complex instructional needs.

Kelly Heitchue

Educational Consultant for Behavior Support

Kelly Heitchue supports the Behavior and Autism Initiatives at Westmoreland Intermediate Unit. She has been employed by the WIU for 22 years. Kelly began her career in the San Francisco Bay Area, delivering Applied Behavior Analysis services in a private educational facility and in home to children with Autism and Behavioral Disorders. She continued furthering her education and training in ABA through completing coursework and achieving certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Her classes and field experiences were taught and supervised under direction of some of the national leaders such as Vince Carbone and Mark Sundberg. She then received additional education through the Penn State Autism Certificate Program. Kelly serves as a Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support Network local facilitator, providing training in the installation of School-wide Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions to local school districts. She has also maintained instructor certification status through Crisis Prevention Institute since beginning her employment at WIU 7.

Marissa Rega

Educational Consultant for Behavior Support

After receiving a Dual-Bachelors Degree in Special/Elementary Education from California University of PA, Marissa Rega began her career in education at the WIU 16 years ago as a full-time special education teacher. Through her teaching tenure, she supported students in local school districts both in learning and emotional support classroom settings. Her devotion to the field of special education was evident during her years of service at Clairview School, where she supported students with complex learning needs both as a life skills classroom teacher and as a technology integration teacher. As an educator, Marissa has demonstrated leadership as she helped launch several classroom and school-wide initiatives and piloted programs, such as LETRS Literacy, Project Max and SWPBIS. Marissa served for many years on Clairview School's Student Assistance Program (SAP) Team and helped establish the school's SWPBIS program, both of which have received statewide recognition for high fidelity. She has also presented at state forums on the topics of Mental Health and Behavior Support in alternative school settings. Because of her desire to provide greater support to students with mental/behavioral health needs, Marissa pursued a Masters Degree in Counseling at Cal U and graduated in 2016 as a Certified School Counselor. She returned to Clairview School as the school mental health specialist, in which she provided individual and group school-based counseling services to students with a wide range of mental health needs. Marissa joined the WIU TaC team in 2017 to train and consult in the areas of Positive Behavior and Mental Health Initiatives. She is a certified instructor through the Crisis Prevention Institute and local Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support Network Provisional Facilitator as well as a Nationally Certified Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor.

Mindy McMahen

Educational Consultant for Transition

Mindy has Bachelor’s Degrees in Elementary and Special Education, Master’s Degrees in Curriculum and Instruction, Secondary Transition, and School Administration Supervision. In addition, she holds PA teaching certification in elementary education, special education, and middle school science . She spent ten years as a special education teacher before joining the TaC team in 2013. She has received National Certificate of Achievement in Employment Services from Virginia Commonwealth University, part of the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE) certification. Mindy annually attends and has presented at the state transition conference in order to stay abreast of and share current trends in secondary transition. She also participates in the state conference planning committee and State Leadership Team on Transition. Within her role as the Transition TaC she has revamped the WIU transition website to include various resources such as LiveBinders she created for teacher resources, general transition resources, and transition based assessments, many of which are utilized and referenced throughout the state. She is knowledgeable of Indicator 13 (transition aged IEP development) and indicator 14 (post-secondary outcomes) requirements and provides training and consultation to educational staff throughout Westmoreland County in these areas as well as transition planning, assessment, and agency connection. She has been instrumental in the development of a localized transition and employment mini-conference that provides students in Westmoreland County with various opportunities to explore career preparation skills such as self-advocacy, portfolio development and interviewing skills. In addition she began Transition Coordinator Meetings as a way to support district level transition coordinators and provide them an opportunity to network with each other, while still maintaining the traditional Local Transition Coordinating Council (LTCC) that sponsors various local events/resources to support the county in preparing our youth with disabilities and their families for transition beyond high school.

Natalie Smith

Educational Consultant for LRE/Inclusion

With over two decades of dedicated focus, Natalie Smith provides expertise in supporting students in the least restrictive environment. Recognized as an ARC of Westmoreland Educator of the Year, Natalie conducted early reading research and curriculum development that led to a 30% increase in early reading skills of children with disabilities program-wide. Natalie has been the co-chairperson of the Local Interagency Coordinating Council and the Local Task Force, leading committees in creating school and parent supports. Natalie has served as one of only seven state leads in Educator Effectiveness, and has trained over 4000 teachers and administrators state-wide to improve educator and principal practices. She has trained on topics in special education and inclusion locally, regionally, and state-wide. Her work in Project Max has supported hundreds of teachers presume competence and remove barriers for students with disabilities. As a special education supervisor for ten years Natalie was immersed in compliance monitoring, and created policies and procedures for improving practices in special education. She has received extensive training in inclusive practices by Dr. Marilyn Friend, and has worked collaboratively with Charlotte Danielson. Natalie carries certifications in special education, early childhood education, reading specialist, supervisor of special education, and superintendent letter of eligibility. Her current research in supporting students with traumatic brain injury in inclusive settings adds to her role as BrainSTEPS team leader for Westmoreland County.

Melissa Klug

Educational Consultant for LRE/Inclusion

Melissa Klug joined the TaC Team in April 2018 as an Educational Consultant for the Least Restrictive Environment Initiative. After graduating from Slippery Rock University with a dual certification in Elementary and Special Education, Melissa served for 11 years as a special education teacher providing learning support and emotional support services. Melissa has many years of co-teaching experience. She provided professional development to other teachers to support co-teaching school-wide. As a teacher, Melissa participated in the building-wide PBIS initiative. To further support her students, Melissa served on the Student Assistance Team (SAP) and is certified in Nonviolent Crisis Prevention (CPI). Melissa frequently attends professional development opportunities to continue to learn the most current instructional strategies, and share them with colleagues. For the past 2 years, Melissa has been involved in the MTSS math state-wide cohort, implementing research-based interventions, and presenting data to determine response to intervention. To improve students’ success in reading, Melissa became a certified Spell Read Instructor. She also attended LETRS training, and DIBELS training. To support educators with math content, Melissa is certified to train in Concrete, Representational Abstract sequence of instruction (CRA), which is a math intervention. Currently, Melissa is completing her Masters of Education and will be adding a Reading Specialist certification and an Instruction Coach Endorsement to her credentials.

Jennifer Kapusta

Educational Consultant for M.T.S.S.

Jennifer brings 18 years of experience to the TAC Team with a focus on Multi-Tiered System of Supports. She is currently a DIBELS(Acadience Reading & Math) Mentor. Jennifer currently holds a Special Education Supervision Certificate from Duquesne University and an Administrative K-12 Certification (California University of Pennsylvania), Master’s in Education with Technology (Duquesne University), Certified English 7-12, Bachelor’s in Elementary and Bachelor’s in Special Education (Duquesne University). During her Master’s Program she was required to spend one week at N.A.S.A. developing a Science Unit to be implemented to Learning Support students for their required course work for 7th-8th grade. Jennifer also was trained and participated in the Attack Theatre of Pittsburgh’s Elementary Residency program model for enhancing the curriculum through integrating movement and utilizing kinetic modalities of learning. Throughout Jennifer’s career she was a part of working with PDE participating on a district Curriculum Alignment Team, an Elementary Supervisor of Student Teachers, Elementary Mentor, participated in the Educational Leadership Consortium and was a guest presenter at the County Wide Technology Conference in Hershey, Pa. For several years, she was also a district wide CPI Instructor. Jennifer also was involved in the Include Me from The Start for Inclusion and presented at Penn State University on behalf of the Include Me initiative of The Arc of Pennsylvania. She has also had extensive training in TDA & PLN Writing Strategies, a comprehensive professional development/curricular enhancement/school reform program.