Special Education Department

Staff Bios

Tara McAllister, M.E

Tara McAllister, M.E

Name: Tara McAllister
Title: Director of Special Education
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE Email: tmcallister@ihopenyc.org
Bio: Tara McAllister earned her Masters Degree in Special Education from Arcadia University in Glenside, PA and received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Lafayette College in Easton, PA. Prior to working at iHOPE, she previously worked in Philadelphia as an Assistant Principal of Special Education. She began working in the field of education through Philadelphia Teaching Fellows, teaching in both public and charter high schools, working primarily with students with intellectual disabilities, autism, TBI, and/or multiple disabilities. She is incredibly passionate about working with the students at iHOPE and collaborating with the dedicated staff to allow each student to reach their full potential.
Family Origin: American

 

Aruna Karra

Aruna Karra, PhD

Name: Dr. Aruna Karra
Title: Teacher
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE Email: akarra@ihopenyc.org
Bio: Dr. Aruna Karra received her Doctorate in Special Education (Intellectual Disabilities) from Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University (RKMVU), India in the year 2013. The focus of her Doctoral Research was on teaching community living skills to adults with mental retardation through simulation and naturalized settings. Her other areas of research included a study on social skills of children attending special school and those receiving home based intervention, the effect of play on learning numbers among children with mental retardation. Having a Masters in Management Information Systems, Dr. Karra shifted her interest towards the field of disability while interacting/working with her nephew who is a special needs child. She started her career in Special Education in the year 2004, working with students diagnosed with mild/moderate/severe/profound levels and behavioral issues. Apart from working with students with special needs and counselling their families, she was also part of the guest faculty at the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped (NIMH) for the undergraduate and graduate training programs. In the year 2013, she got an opportunity to come to USA and work in the public school system in Atlanta. Working in the public school system helped her to hone her instructional strategies with the new technology and adaptive devices suited to the needs of students. When she came to visit iHOPE for her interview she was very excited and looked forward to being a part of this organization. Today when you ask her how she feels being at iHOPE, she would say iHOPE has been a blessing to her and her family, and she is honored to be a part of this great organization, where everyone works as a team and treat each other as family.
Family Origin: Indian

 

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Christina Thompson, M.S.Ed

Name: Christina Thompson
Title: Teacher
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE Email: cthompson@ihopenyc.org
Bio: Christina Thompson received her Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education Birth -2 which included a tri-certification in Special Education Grades 1-6, (Students with Disabilities) in the year of 2011. Christina received her BA in Political Science from York College (CUNY) in the year of 2009. She has worked with children in a variety of settings including general education, special education and in a residential facility. Christina has worked with common special needs students that include; learning disabilities, communication disorders, emotional and behavioral disorders, physical disabilities and developmental disabilities from ages 3- 21. She is forever grateful for being part of the iHOPE team, it gives her a sense of nurturing in all aspects and supplies a developmentally appropriate environment for her students.
Family Origin:African American, Jamaican descent

 

Deborah Hubert-M.S.Ed

Deborah Hubert, M.S.Ed

Name: Debbie Hubert
Title: Teacher
Occupation/Role: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE email: dhubert@ihopenyc.org
Short bio: Debbie Hubert earned her M.S.Ed in Early Childhood Special Education- Severe and Multiple Disabilities including Deafblindness from Hunter College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from SUNY New Paltz. For the past four and half years, she has worked with children in a variety of settings including general education, special education and home based, in both public and private schools. Her passion for teaching students with special needs began when she became a paraprofessional to a student with multiple disabilities. Debbie’s passion for teaching continues to grow with each new student she meets. She is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the iHope team.
Family origin: German

 

Kristin Hutchinson, B.Sc

Kristin Hutchinson, B.Sc

Name: Kristin Hutchison
Title: Teacher
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE Email: khutchison@ihopenyc.org
Bio: Kristin Hutchison earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in pre-occupational therapy and a minor in special education from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She earned her M.S.Ed in Special Education with an annotation in severe and multiple disabilities including deafblindness from Hunter College. She holds New York state certification in Childhood Education, Special Education, as well as an advanced certificate in severe and multiple disabilities. She completed her Hunter fieldwork with students with multiple disabilities in District 75 of the Department of Education. Before joining the iHOPE team, Kristin has worked with in a variety of educational, extracurricular, and summer camp settings with typically developing children, children with autism, and multiple disabilities. Kristin incorporates fun and interesting activities, life skills exercises, and a variety of communication opportunities into academics and classroom activities. She believes it is important to have a strong partnership with families.
Family Origin: English

 

Lauryn Fish, M.S.Ed

Lauryn Fish, M.S.Ed

Name: Lauryn Fish
Title: Teacher
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE Email: lfish@ihopenyc.org
Bio: Lauryn Fish earned her Bachelor of Science degree in General Education/Special Education with a concentration in English at The State University College at Buffalo, and received her M.S.Ed in Severe and Multiple Disabilities including Deafblindness from Hunter College. She holds New York State certification in Childhood Education, Early Childhood Education, and Special Education. Before joining the incredible iHope team, Lauryn was an assistant teacher in a preschool classroom, worked at a weekly social-skills program for children with Autism spectrum disorders and emotional and behavior disorders, and student taught within a variety of diverse schools within the NYC public school districts. She strives to create a nurturing, inclusive, and collaborative educational atmosphere which incorporates differentiated instruction, exciting and fun learning experiences, and welcomes diversity. She believes that a strong partnership between home, school, and community set the educational foundation for lifelong learning.
Family Origin: English

 

Lindsey Garland

Lindsey Garland, B.Sci

Name: Lindsey Garland
Title: Teacher
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE Email: lgarland@ihopenyc.org
Bio: Lindsey Garland earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Childhood/Special Education and Journalism from New York University and her M.S.Ed in Severe and Multiple Disabilities including Deafblindness from Hunter College. She holds New York state professional certification in Childhood Education, Early Childhood Education, and Special Education with an annotation in Severe and Multiple Disabilities. She completed her NYU fieldwork with students with multiple disabilities at YAI Manhattan. Before joining the iHOPE team, Lindsey taught in NYC public schools providing instruction and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders, emotional/behavioral disorders and learning disabilities.
Family Origin: English and German

 

Samantha Joseph, B.S.

Samantha Joseph, B.Sc

Name: Samantha Joseph
Title: Teacher
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE email: sjoseph@ihopenyc.org
Bio: Samantha Joseph earned her duel Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Special Education/ General of Education (Birth-2nd Grade) and her Associates for Early Childhood Education at Burgh of Manhattan Community College. Samantha is currently in the process of receiving her Masters in Special Education (Birth- 2nd grade) at Brooklyn College. Prior to working at iHOPE, she had worked as an assistant teacher for children with special needs. With her experience and knowledge, Samantha is honored to be a part of the iHOPE team.
Family origin: Haitian