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Donna L.

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Denville, NJ (07834)

Travel radius
15 miles
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I am a Special Education Teacher available for individualized in-home services. I will come to your home to reinforce skill development for your child including children with moderate to severe disabilities. I have a MA in Developmental Disabilities and 10 years teaching experience specializing in children (age 3-12) with:

- Autism
- Multiple disabilities
- Down’s Syndrome
- Medically fragile
- Physical disabilities
- Sensory processing difficulties
- Communication delay

I am Highly Qualified in the Elementary Core Contends and have taught students Pre-School through Primary Grade level skills (grades K-4). I specialize in teaching Reading, Phonics, Vocabulary and Spelling.

I started my teaching career in January 1999. I taught Pre-School and primary aged students with Multiple Disabilities including severe cognitive delays, physical disabilities and communication impairments. I worked with augmentative communication devices and assistive technology. As my career progressed I taught Pre-School through Grade 4 Elementary level subjects. Throughout my teaching tenure I have observed student’s growth in academic and academic readiness skills, communication, play, social and self-help skills. References are available from both parents and school administration.

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Donna’s subjects

Special Needs:
Elementary Education:


I have taught students with Autism since 1999. I taught children daily living skills and preschool through grade 3 academic skills. My primary focus in teaching autistic children is how to communicate. Children with autism need a way to communicate their needs and respond to others. I use verbal prompting to get a student to look, listen and attend to a task. I also use picture cards to help autistic children understand what object is being requested or to help them understand directions. I utilize picture story books reinforce appropriate behavior. I have experience using more formal approaches to learning how to communicate such as PECS, augmentative communication devices and basic sign language.
To teach academic skill development I implement multi-sensory lessons using manipulitives to reinforce the lesson being taught. My lessons are interactive to keep the child engaged in the lesson. I use single step directions initially and gradually increase the number of steps in directions once the child is able to follow them. I have observed children progress in reading, phonics, language arts and math using a variety of resources and teaching methods. I believe that I have been successful teaching children with autism because I adapt material to meet the student's mode of learning.

Elementary (K-6th)

I am highly qualified in the elementary core contents and teach reading, math, language arts, phonics, grammar, science and social studies on the elementary level. I have eleven years’ experience teaching elementary aged students with special needs. The students' cognitive levels range from below average to above average learner. I teach grade level to the higher functioning students. When teaching students on their age appropriate grade level I use the same teaching resources as the children in the regular education classes. I work closely with the regular education teachers to ensure that the students in my class are on target with their peers in reading, language arts, math, science and social studies. My individual student’s academic performance is measured by the same tests and measurements as the regular education students.
Although I teach many different levels in reading and math I am planning lessons and using the resources as the regular elementary education teachers. I am responsible for the academic gain for my students regardless of their cognitive level and therefore I am capable of teaching multiple grade levels in elementary education.


I have extensive experience teaching Phonics on many different academic levels from Preschool through Grade 3. Phonics teaches word recognition through the letter/sound relationship. I use the synthetic method to teach students how to decode words. In the synthetic method isolated letter sounds are identified. The student learns that letters represent certain sounds and are taught how to blend the sounds to form words. It is important for the students to read text that immediately reinforces the letter-sound relationship being taught. Phonics instruction builds on a foundation of phonemic awareness and continues to develop as student’s progress developmental and academically. I combine phonics with a total reading program when applicable. Phonemic awareness includes four language components taught in order depending on the student’s academic and cognitive level. The hierarchical order consists of: word, syllable, onset and rime, and phoneme.
To teach phonics I use a combination of traditional and self-made resources (depending on the student’s needs) including:
I have used:
Activity Phonics by Zaner-Bloser Preschool – Grade 1
Phonics by Steck Vaughn
Grades 1 - 3
Discover Phonics (Reading Street) by Scott Foresman
Grades K-1
Scholastic Phonics Workbooks by Scholastic
Grades Preschool – Grade 3
Manipulatives are an excellent way to teach and reinforce letter recognition. These include plastic letters, play dough, sand paper or any material that children can feel and trace the letter with their fingers.
Flashcards and games
Computers are not only a very useful resource in teaching letters and sounds but an excellent resource for developing student interest.
Computer generated worksheets
Teacher resources for activities and worksheets


I have experience utilizing a variety of reading programs including:

Basal Reading Approach - the traditional reading program using reading texts with workbooks and supplemental materials

Literature-Based Reading Approach - uses children's literature books to get students interested in reading. Books are categorized by reading level.

Phonics Approach - teaches word recognition, students decode words by the letter sound relationship

I teach students through their strengths and often use a variety of materials to optimize learning potential.

Special Needs

I have ten years teaching experience, am Highly Qualified in Elementary Core Contents and have a Master’s Degree in Developmental Disabilities. Many students I have taught were diagnosed with Autism, Multiple Disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, or were medically fragile and had language Impairments. My strengths include teaching students ages 3 to 10 with moderate to severe cognitive impairments and language delays. I taught many students daily living skills, a means to communicate, cause and effect, social and play skills. In addition I taught preschool and kindergarten skills depending on the cognitive ability and skill level of the individual student.

For children with delayed communication it is imperative to give them a means to communicate what they want and need including the ability to express their feelings. Communication skill development includes both expressive and receptive language. There are several methods to teach a child how to communicate including object recognition, picture cards, sign language and augmentative communication devices. These methods do not exclude teaching a child how to verbalize their needs but are used in combination with the development of speech. Teaching social skill development utilizes communication skills concepts and addresses how to follow directions, how to play with a toy, how to take turns and how to act appropriately in a group. To teach daily living skills children are taught either through hand over hand, modeling or demonstration and/or following single step directions (using both pictures and verbal prompting). Children learn how to take care of himself including dressing, eating and caring his belongings (packing/unpacking a backpack).

Study Skills

I have 10 years’ experience teaching children with Special Needs and to teach study skills I have to teach students how to attend to a task, maintain their focus and to stay on task. Children learn to maintain their focus for increasing periods of time. I use verbal prompting to keep a child on task; I also use a timer when the child has more difficulty staying focused. If children have a very short attention span activities are broken into sections and after the child completes the section he gets a break usually an activity that he/she selects to help maintain the child’s motivation.


I have in-depth experience teaching both children with limited vocabulary development and children in need of support to increase their vocabulary. To teach children with a very limited vocabulary they initially learn: family names, body parts, common objects, food and verbs (cup, ball, car, milk, go, eat,). Their vocabulary development increases to include: places, transportation, household items, toys, health and daily living, colors, and numbers. Once the child begins to develop vocabulary it is time to string words together and begin to make requests and answer questions. Young children learn language through imitation, repetition and play. Picture books, pictures, mirrors and toys are excellent resources to teach early language development.
When children have language my emphasis is on increasing vocabulary development according to the child’s developmental level. As the child’s language skills develop words and sentences increase in complexity. Older children learn vocabulary through independent reading, demonstration, repetition and the use of teaching tools like flash cards and workbooks, reference materials.

Read all subject qualifications »

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Glassboro / Rowen University

William Paterson University - (Master's)

Very Patient and Caring Donna is a great match tutor for my grandson. She took the time to find out his shortcomings and understood what was needed to be done. She cares. I am happy to have her tutor him. Her experience is evident in her manner and method of teaching, which result in my grandson's progress. She takes the time to discuss and address parental concerns. She is a teaching professional and I am happy to refer ...

— Mary from Randolph, NJ on 2/21/13);

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $45.00

Cancellation: 2 hours notice required

Travel policy

Donna will travel within 15 miles of Denville, NJ 07834.

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Usually responds in about 15 hours

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