Meet the Team
Director & Special Instructor
Emily Wachter, MA
With a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology, a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a Behavior Specialist License, Emily has worked with children and adults with exceptional needs for more than 20 years.
Emily has worked as an Early Intervention Evaluator, Supervisor, Mobile Therapist, Behavior Specialist, and Special Instructor in Erie, Warren and Venango counties. These positions have allowed her the varied experience and education that comes with working with children with many different needs.
Emily also teaches Psychology as an Adjunct Lecturer at Gannon University, as well as providing trainings over the years in her community.
In addition, she developed a respite program (with the support of grant funding) in Warren county to support families and their need for a break. She also has facilitated a LEGO social group in Warren, PA, since 2017, on a weekly basis to help children develop relationships. Paired with this is coordinating additional supports and services in the Warren County area.
Team Leader/Special Instructor
Billi Jo Lombardo, B.SOC., SC.
Billi Jo has been in the field of child development and children with exceptional needs for over 15 years. She has a bachelor’s in social science, with a concentration in Education.
Billi Jo has worked in Early Intervention in Erie County for over three years. Prior to that she taught at Bright Horizons Early Learning Center at Penn state Behrend and was an assistant in the IU5 Preschool Autistic Support Classroom. Her experience also includes Therapeutic Support Staff, and an Inclusion Consultant through the ARC of Pennsylvania in two different Erie County School Districts.
Billi Jo recently completed the Infant Mental Health Foundations Course through the University of Pittsburgh which is sponsored by OCDEL’s Bureau of Early Intervention. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Infant Mental Health and is pursuing endorsement as an Infant Family Associate through Pennsylvania Association for Infant Mental Health. She is also a part of the Pennsylvania Autism Navigator Learning Community.
Jenni Smith, B.A.
Jenni has over twenty years of experience in education, mainly in early childhood. She has a Bachelor’s degree of Arts with a dual major and certification in Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
Jenni was a Lead Teacher for an autistic support preschool classroom, Head Start, the YMCA and Bright Horizons Early Learning center at Penn State Behrend. She was also a substitute in the Harbor Creek and North East School Districts as well as an assistant preschool teacher at Montessori Regional Charter School.
Jenni received two awards while working for Bright Horizons. The Rising Star Award recognizes enthusiastic individuals who are eager to learn and have a positive attitude. The Family Partnership Award honors individuals who demonstrate support of working families and ensuring their satisfaction throughout building a community of caring.
Beyond the classroom, Jenni was involved with coaching youth soccer for several years at the YMCA. For other twenty years, she continues to make a difference with youth as a leader with Boy Scouts of America. She is also the Founder/ Teacher for World Adventures Online Preschool which offers free preschool activities and low-cost lessons that prepare children for Kindergarten.
Franki Krugger, B.A.
Franki has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and has worked in early intervention for 3 years.
She completed an Autism Navigator course and attended the PA Infant Mental Health Conference in 2019.
Her previous experience includes roles as a therapeutic staff support and behavioral health worker in the elementary school setting.
Franki was also trained to work as a lead teacher in an emerging language program for children with an autism diagnosis.
Franki genuinely enjoys working with children and families and delights in their progress.
Lori M. Gutierrez, M. ED.
Lori has worked in the Early Childhood Education field for over 20 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Education. She worked for many years with young children in the Child Protective Services system, among others.
Lori worked as a Training and Curriculum Specialist for the United States Navy Child Development Centers. She moved on to work for state government, where she worked in quality improvement for state funded early childhood programs.
Lori also taught at the college level for students pursuing their Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education. Most recently, she worked for the Pennsylvania Keys as an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant. She is also a certified CDA instructor.
Shannon Curtis, M. ED.
Shannon has a Bachelor in General Arts and Science with a cognate in Pyshcology from Penn State Behrend, teaching certifications in both Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Mercyhurst University, as well as a Reading Specialist certification from Gannon. She also has a Master’s degree is in Curriculum and Instruction.
Shannon has worked with children and families in a variety of positions over the last 20 years, with ages ranging from newborn up to school age. These positions included working one on one with children, teaching in a classroom setting, as well as running a child care center. She believes in in building relationships and bridges to best serve families, schools and communities… working together to achieve the very best outcomes for our children.
Shannon is a mother, living in Erie, with her husband and 2 daughters. They love animals and have 6 fish, 1 crab, 2 dogs and recently added a puppy! In addition to working for EI, Shannon also works for a family business and substitute teaches. She enjoys football (go PSU), working out, the beach. Her girls are her world!
Judy Burke, B.A.
Judy graduated from Edinboro University with a Bachelors degree in Special Education. She has worked in the field of early intervention for 19 years.
Judy has provided services in the Birth to 3 and 3 to 5 years programs during her career. She has also had experience as a therapeutic support staff in the preschool setting. Judy has had experience with children with a spectrum disorder and in past years has attended the Autism Conference at Penn State. She has co-facilitated parenting classes and taught in the preschool setting in TLC classes.
Judy enjoys building strong relationships with families and helping them grow.
Join Our Team
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