2009 S.T.E.P. graduate Laura Lombardi secured a special education teaching position in the Elmont school district after working at an AHRC school in Brooklyn.

by Brett H. Spielberg

“Being able to get a master’s in only a year at a nice campus big enough that you weren’t stuck in a building all day and yet was close to home seemed like a great transition.”–Laura Lombardi, M.A. ’09

In four years, Laura Lombardi, M.A. ’09, has gone from taking education courses and student teaching to standing in front of her own class at the Alden Terrace Elementary School in Elmont.

Ms. Lombardi has been a special education teacher in the Elmont school district since September 2012, focusing on students with autism in first through third grades.

Currently, she works in a 6:1:2 Applied Behavior Analysis classroom for children with autism. The 6:1:2 refers to the ratio of students to teachers to teachers’ aides. She uses discrete trials and adapted curricula paired with daily living skills and vocational programs to help children gain independence.

Asked how her experience at Adelphi prepared her for this work, Ms. Lombardi said, “The professors were very honest and knowledgeable about adapting curriculums to fit the needs of the many different students that I may have had in the classroom and the different academic levels they may be on. I definitely went into this field feeling confident that I could write an appropriate report and assess students appropriately without needing the assistance of an administrator. It really helped with my confidence.”

Until last September, Ms. Lombardi worked at AHRC Middle High School in Brooklyn as a middle school teacher for children with autism in an 8:1:2 classroom. She left the school to pursue a career outside of private schools and on Long Island.

“The students varied in their communication abilities—some are non-verbal, so I used sign language a lot, which I am fluent in,” Ms. Lombardi said. “[Some] students use communication devices like an iPad. The one thing I learned was just to do your job and do it well, to go in there with that mindset. Love what you do and it should resonate.”

Having earned an academic year’s worth of credits in communication arts from Marymount University, Ms. Lombardi wanted to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees efficiently while shifting her focus toward the education field. She chose Adelphi’s Scholar Teacher Educator Program (S.T.E.P.), citing the University’s engaging and knowledgeable professors, unique and prestigious program and superb reputation for outreach in the community.

“I was really intrigued by S.T.E.P.,” Ms. Lombardi said. “Being able to get a master’s in only a year at a nice campus big enough that you weren’t stuck in a building all day and yet was close to home seemed like a great transition.”

Along with her degrees, she graduated with a dual certificate in special education.

As part of S.T.E.P., Ms. Lombardi had to choose a major other than education for her remaining undergraduate credits; the communication arts program was perfect for her.

“The internships were wonderful,” Ms. Lombardi said. “But my favorite part was sports journalism with [adjunct professor] Brett Topel. Having to go watch and report on different sporting events really got me involved.”

Also as part of S.T.E.P., Ms. Lombardi spent considerable time as a student teacher on weekdays. The convenience of Adelphi’s night and weekend classes fit her schedule and helped her avoid the headache of one-hour commutes to and from New York City.

“Working on Long Island, you see that everyone knows that Adelphi’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education is highly regarded,” Ms. Lombardi said. “Beyond that, going to Adelphi helped me to learn the Nassau County area and helped me make connections with lots of different people in different districts.”

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