Experts

The curriculum was designed by professionals in general and special education, developmental and behavioral psychology, and speech-language pathology. Contributing authors include: Christina Whalen, PhD, BCBA-D; Melinda Docter, Ed.D.; Shannon Cernich, Ph.D., BCBA-D; and Lauren Franke, PsyD, CCC/SLP. 

Dr. Christina Whalen, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Co-Founder, Chief Science Officer
TeachTown

Dr. Whalen is a licensed psychologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst specializing in autism and special education. She received her PhD at U.C. San Diego and did her post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA. She has consulted for many school districts and has run early intervention programs at Autism Spectrum Therapies and University of Washington Autism Center. Dr. Whalen has more than 15 years of experience in research and clinical practice. She has presented at many professional conferences and has authored several peer-reviewed publications. She is the editor of the book Real Life, Real Progress for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Strategies for Successful Generalization in Natural Environments. Dr. Whalen has been a Principal Investigator on 4 federal grants and has won 2 awards for research including the National Tibbett's Award from Small Business Innovative Research and runner-up in the 2007 Technology in the Works competition from the National Center for Technology Innovation. She is currently the Chief Science Officer for TeachTown and works in the San Francisco Bay Area office of TeachTown and has been with the company since the very beginning in 2003. Dr. Whalen was recently appointed as a Consulting Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford School of Medicine.

Melinda Docter, Ed.D.
V.P. of Curriculum
TeachTown

Melinda holds a doctorate in Education and both a Regular Education Credential and Special Education Credential in Moderate to Severe Disabilities as well as an Administrative Credential. She was previously the principal at Junior Blind of America's Special Education School, providing services to children with multiple severe disabilities and autism. She was also the principal at The Help Group's Village Glen School, specializing in education and behavior intervention for chidren with autism and Asperger's Syndrome as well as a Staff Research Associate at UCLA's Semel Institute for Human Behavior and Neuropsychiatric Hospital. Melinda has a child with Asperger's Syndrome and has recently authored Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide to Helping Your Child Thrive at Home and at School.

Dr. Shannon Cernich, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Dr. Cernich is a a Board Certified Behavior Analyst specializing in autism and behavioral disorders, as well as a psychologist specializing in learning and memory. She began working with special needs students as a volunteer when she was in 8th grade. Dr. Cernich received her PhD at U.C. Irvine from the Department of Cognitive Sciences. She has worked with many school districts and regional centers designing and supervising programs for students with autism and behavioral challenges. She has also taught in general education at all levels (elementary through university). She has presented at conferences and published in the fields of Applied Behavioral Analysis, Cognitive Science, and Neuroscience. 

Dr. Lauren Franke, PsyD,CCC/SLP
Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Franke is a Clinical Psychologist and Speech Language Pathologist who has taught at several universities and worked with children, their families and school districts for over 30 years. Currently she is in private practice and consults with school districts. She has developed Coaching Comprehension-Creating Conversation an interactive narrative-based approach to for language intervention. A treatment manual for this approach is currently in publication. Dr. Franke frequently gives seminars to professionals and parents on topics related to assessment, social skills intervention, helping students with autism spectrum disorders access the core curriculum and narrative-based language intervention.

Laura Lara-Brady, Ph.D.
Research Scientist

Laura holds a doctorate in Educational Psychology with a minor in Special Education and another one in Statistics and Research Methods. She was previously a research associate and a consultant for the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ, where she helped developed a framework identifying the population of English Language Learners. Laura has presented her research in numerous conferences nationally and internationally and along with her bi-cultural background, has developed a sharp eye for educational research and research methods.