Your interest, help, and support will be managed well due to the decorated credentials and leadership of Susan Cataldi. Her reputation and experience serving the ID population began at the age of fifteen working summers as a camp counselor for the Easter Seals Society, and she continued to do so throughout her years in high school. From those experiences, she knew her life’s calling. For her post graduate education, she attended Slippery Rock University and received a dual major bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education, with specialized concentration in physical disabilities. Everything accomplished at one of the leading schools at the time in the United States offering this unique dual major.
She went on to serve thirty years in the private and public school setting with her last twenty as the Life Skills teacher at Fox Chapel Area High School. It would take pages to fully describe the impact she had on the students she served, their parents, and the community at large. These four awards will help bring to light the excellence in which she conducted herself to achieve… the Teacher Excellence Award as one of top one-hundred teachers in Pennsylvania, nominated for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award, won both the Walmart Teacher of the Year, Gibsonia Branch and Scott Folmer Award for Teacher Excellence in Inclusion.
Her vision for meeting those with intellectual disabilities in the classroom is well documented, but her impact on the lives of those students didn’t stop there. While at Fox Chapel High School she developed the,” Peer Helper Program”, designed to include typically developing peers with her students with disabilities. Both the students with disabilities and their typical peers benefited from this program, through learning activities, such as prompting hierarchy, data collection, adapted home economics, biographic studies, and community based learning skills in their natural environment. Social activities were also part of the Peer Helper Program. Peers and students with intellectual disabilities spent time together during non-school sponsored activities, such as, bowling nights, movies nights, nights at each other’s homes, and for the girls, getting their nails done together! For school sponsored functions, together they attended activities such as, homecoming dances, football games, basketball games and one of the most special activity in any high schoolers experience, Prom!
Susan’s vision now is to see Team Friends® chapters using the Team Friends® IMPACT model to begin in cities throughout the United States, but really, why not the world. It is estimated there are 200 million individuals with an intellectual disabilities worldwide.
Big vision, certainly can’t be done alone, come be a part a Team Friends® in any way your heart is leading.