“I’m just so blessed to have been given a chance to come here,” Dr. Katharine Croce, Felician University’s newest addition to the School of Education, said. “It felt like home, like where I was meant to be,” the new Assistant Professor added.
Dr. Croce comes to Felician after having served as the Director of the ASERT (Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training) Grant at Drexel University which worked to bring together resources for supporting and understanding the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. “I didn’t know anything about autism, but I was looking for a job in my field,” she said, reflecting that she found her calling after having the opportunity to work with a three-year old student with autism. “By the end of the summer, I knew that this was what I would do for the rest of my life.”
In remembering the first meeting she had with Dr. Sylvia McGeary, Felician V.P. of Academic Affairs and Mission Integration, Dr. Croce said she was moved by the story of the Felician Sisters.
“Dr. McGeary talked about the mission of the Felician Sisters and the war that was happening and how they didn’t turn any soldier away,” she said. “I felt like they were speaking the language of our field, because that’s where we have blossomed as behavior analysts, we take the problem that people are having a difficult time solving, or we seek the challenging cases that nobody else knows what to do with, and we’ll try to help and figure it out.”
Even before the Sisters knew what autism was, Dr. Croce noted, they were preaching exactly what Behavior Analysis represents, calling it “such a nice marriage.”
Now she’s excited to be working alongside Dr. Stephanie McGowan, Dean of Felician’s School of Education, and Behavior Analyst, Dr. John Burke, to develop practicums for students to acquire field experience hours which she says are similar to internships in that, “students are actually in the field, in homes, in clinics, in schools providing behavior analytic services to individuals that need support.”
Dr. Croce said she “feels blessed and grateful to get to work next to and partner with them,” and that Dr. McGowan and Dr Burke are definitely the type of team she was hoping for. Another part of the connection, Dr. Croce said, is Felician’s mission to, “really serve the underserved.”
Bringing with her an already distinguished career in the field Dr. Croce speaks of her “side passion project” wherein she and a former colleague, Jamie Salter, wrote a book called Self & Match which teaches individuals how to monitor their behaviors, and also helps teachers learn how to develop self- monitoring interventions in their classrooms.
“We created a self-monitoring system that we go around the world and do presentations about, and it is to help not just individuals with autism, but any students that may be exhibiting any challenging behavior to really learn how to self- monitor and self-regulate and become more independent.”
Her extensive background also includes having served as a Special Education Coordinator, instrumental in the development and oversight of educational programming available to students placed in an in-patient crisis hospital.