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RECOGNIZING SACRIFICES Singing Praises of Autism Academy Teachers

By Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen



AUTISM ACADEMY – During the 2017-18 school year, east and west valley Autism Academy teachers remain steadfast amid strategic transitions to accommodate rapid growth. With a ribbon cutting ceremony in Tempe, a new facility in Peoria, and the Gilbert campus relocating to Chandler, the school is experiences unprecedented progress.

Absent of apprehension, negativity or rebuttable, AAED teachers nurture a professional and positive learning environment amid growth spurts. Growing pains can prove difficult in the classroom, especially when coaching children with autism to cope with change. Teachers at the Autism Academy for Education and Development (AAED) manage to maintain seamless strategies by making daily sacrifices without seeking self-gain or hoping to be noticed. While the leadership team and school administration is working hard to accommodate oncoming students, they take time to recognize the hard work of great teachers.

AAED owner Laura Newcomb says she understands that professional, experienced and well-qualified teachers is why the school is Arizona’s top choice for students with autism. Teachers at the Autism Academy ensure that each student feels safe and that their opinions and ideas are valued. They create a sense of community and belonging by fostering an environment of mutual respect. School administrators agree that the teachers are warm, approachable and enthusiastic, not only to students, but to everyone on campus.

AAED east and west valley fosters an organic family-like culture with high expectations for all students in caring classrooms. The promise of a premiere learning environment for children with autism has taken on a new and broader meaning at AAED for the 2018-19 school year.

During a recent faculty focused Q&A, school administrators sang the praises of Autism Academy teachers.

AAED owner Laura Newcomb, director Shannon Mitchell, east valley principal Derrick Jamerson, and west valley principal Shawn Davis had this to say about teachers:


Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How AAED Teachers Excel

Answers Provided By:

Owner Laura Newcomb, director Shannon Mitchell, principal Derrick Jamerson, and principal Shawn Davis

WHO are the people that breathe life into the vision of the Autism Academy?
“The students, parents, paras, therapists, leadership, and teachers all breathe life into the vision of AAED. We also value our community supporters and director Shannon Mitchell. Most importantly, teachers are the ultimate educators that breathe life into the vision of the Autism Academy. They celebrate successes, push students to grow, and are a vital part of students’ lives.”

WHAT do you appreciate most about your teaching staff?

“Most importantly, we appreciate their flexibility and how they always put the kids first.
Our teachers possess a unique dedication to students and commitment to each other as a team.”

WHEN do teachers impact family life outside the classroom?

“Our teachers regularly provide support and information to parents and students. They get involved in the process of helping families overcome challenges. They freely share ideas and become an extension of their student’s families.”

WHERE do children with Autism get an education in the most caring environment?
“We observe our classrooms daily and are confident that any classroom on every AAED

Campus offers a caring atmosphere.”

WHY are teachers considered heroes that sacrifice daily? 

“We consider our teachers heroic because everyday they make a decision to sacrifice their time, their own resources, and energy. These sacrifices are physical, emotional and financial. They go far, above and beyond the call of duty routinely, and we recognize it.

HOW valuable are your teachers to the Autism Academy? 

“Teachers are the absolute most important component to our program. Without the kind of teachers we have, there would be no Autism Academy. They are invaluable.”