Meet Our Experts

Parents, family members, teachers and community members often feel unsure of what to do or where to turn when their son/daughter, student or neighbor presents challenges. If you feel this way or wonder, “what can I do?” you are not alone. Watson Life Resources might be able to help. Watson Life Resources is a strategy based resource for families and educators of individuals with disabilities. Our experts provide strategies and resources that can be implemented at home, school or in the community.

The strategies and resources you find are from our dynamic team of educational consultants who have many years of experience in providing support and training to school district personnel and families of individuals with disabilities. The strategies have been successful with many individuals, but the Watson Life Resources consultation team recommends you seek the advice of a qualified professional such as a behavior, speech, or occupational therapist for in-depth assistance and support for your child.

Meet the educational consultants…

Cassie Budzilek, M.A., CCC-SLP

Cassie is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist who currently provides consultation and training services to school district personnel. She has worked in the field of special education for nearly 20 years as a direct service provider and consultant. She obtained both her B.A. and M.A. in Communication Disorders from the University of Pittsburgh and completed her Clinical Fellowship at Kennedy Krieger Children’s Hospital in Baltimore, MD. Prior to working at the Watson Institute, Cassie worked for the PA Training and Technical Assistance Network where she served as the regional lead for the Autism and Speech-Language Initiatives. In that role, she provided technical assistance and training to school district staff across the Commonwealth of PA. Cassie holds the Bureau of Special Education Credential of Competency for Advanced Training in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Penn State University and is a recipient of 4 ACE Awards (Award for Continuing Education) from ASHA . She is a fellow of the Pennsylvania Education and Policy Fellowship Program. Her areas of expertise include autism, Asperger Syndrome, positive behavioral support, structured teaching and inclusive practices. She is a skilled presenter and has trained families, educators, and related service providers at both local and national conferences.

Christine Gallo, M.Ed.

Christine has worked in the field of special education for over 18 years and currently serves as the content manager for the Watson LIFE Resources website. She is also the Learning Support Coordinator for Beaver County Christian School. She earned her B.S in Education and M.Ed. in Special Education from Geneva College. Prior to her current positions, Christine was a Special Project Coordinator for Watson Institute’s Behavior Support for Youth, Community Based Instruction Specialist, Integration Coordinator, and Special Education teacher. She has also worked with children and families in the home setting.

Janet Gmiter, M.Ed., BCBA

Janet has spent over 25 years supporting children with disabilities in both the home, school, and community settings. She has assisted parents and professionals in how best to foster each child’s social-emotional well-being, academic growth, and independent functioning. Janet currently works as an Educational Consultant for the Watson Institute. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Pittsburgh. Janet is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and holds the Bureau of Special Education Credential of Competency for Advanced Training in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Penn State University. In her current position, Janet provides consultation and training to school district personnel working with students with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, and other learning disabilities. Her areas of expertise include early intervention, inclusive practices, applied behavior analysis, positive behavioral support, and structured teaching. She is a skilled presenter and has trained families, educators, and related service providers in both local and national conferences.

Bonnie Jamieson, M.Ed.

Bonnie has worked with families, teachers, and students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for over 30 years.. For the past 17 years she has been an Autism consultant for The Watson Institute. In that role, she provides consultation and training to education teams serving children in regular education, autistic and learning support classrooms, and center based schools. She has developed training materials and videos related to supporting students on the spectrum. In 2011, Bonnie was the recipient of the Grandin Award for her dedication and service to the autism community.

Bonnie was one of the original staff members who developed the LEAP Preschool, an integrated preschool serving children with ASD. Bonnie’s early career was spent working in Harrisburg for the Regional Intervention Program (RIP), an inclusive early intervention program for students with behavior challenges. She provided technical assistance and training to The Early Childhood Research Institute and Clinic and also worked as a trainer for Project STEEM, a federally funded in-service training grant. Bonnie is a skilled presenter and has provided training at local, state, and national conferences. She has also co-authored numerous articles for professional journals.

Marcia Laus, M.Ed.

Marcia began teaching children with autism at LEAP Preschool in 1982. Later, as a Family Service Coordinator at LEAP Preschool, Ms. Laus co-authored the LEAP Preschool Parent Training Curriculum and began training activities with early childhood providers across Pennsylvania. LEAP Preschool came to the Watson Institute in 1995 and in 1998, Ms. Laus developed the training curriculum for the LEAP Preschool Replication Project and supervised the replication project for four years. Ms. Laus currently works as an Educational Consultant with the Training and Consultation Department of The Watson Institute providing training and feedback to school districts. Ms. Laus is also the Program Coordinator of the Watson Institute School-based Cyber Academy and a TEACCH trainer at the yearly Watson Institute/TEACCH workshops. She has conducted numerous workshops and presented at local, state and national conferences.

Claudia A. Lep Presser, M.Ed.

Claudia Lep Presser has been working with children with disabilities and their families for over 25 years. She received her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood and Special Education from Wheelock College in Boston, MA and a Master in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. Claudia is a certified LEAP trainer and was the LEAP teacher and LEAP family service coordinator in the Pittsburgh Public Schools for more than 10 years. She has an extensive background in teaching young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, their families, and support personnel. She has taught in the home, self-contained and inclusive settings for children with a wide range of disabilities and health needs in the Pittsburgh and the Metropolitan Boston areas. For 10 years she taught at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Education. Currently, Claudia is an educational consultant in the Training and Consultation Department at The Watson Institute, providing training and support to educational teams serving students with autism and related disorders in a wide variety of school settings. Claudia is a certified LEAP trainer and has presented on a variety of topics related to Autism Spectrum and related disorders, TEACCH, parent training and inclusive practices for all children with disabilities.

Andrea Morris, M.Ed.

Andee has worked in the field of special education for over 20 years and currently works as an educational consultant for the Watson Institute. She has a Masters of Education and M/PH Certification to work with students with mental or physical disabilities from the University of Pittsburgh. In her current role, Andrea provides training and consultation to educational teams serving students with disabilities in a variety of educational settings. Her areas of expertise include: autism and related disorders, inclusive practices, positive behavior support, naturalistic and structured teaching strategies. Prior to her work at Watson, Andee was an Early Childhood Consultant for the Early Learning Institute, Developmental Specialist for LEAP Pre-school and a Head Teacher for North Area Preschool. She has authored several journal articles and is a skilled presenter.

Lisa Plastino, M.Ed.

Lisa has worked with families, teachers and students in the field of special education for 25 years. She has a Masters of Education from the University of Pittsburgh. In her current position as an Educational Consultant at Watson, Lisa provides consultation and training to educational teams working with students with disabilities in a variety of settings. Her areas of expertise include: early intervention, autism and related disorders, inclusive practices, structured teaching and positive behavior supports. Prior to her work at Watson, she was a Developmental Specialist for LEAP Preschool. Lisa has also been a TEACCH trainer for a number of years and has co-authored several journal articles.