Special Education Department

Staff Bios


Tara McAllister, M.Ed

Name: Tara McAllister
Title: Associate Director of Special Education
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
Bio: Tara McAllister, M.Ed, earned her Masters Degree in Special Education from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania and received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Prior to working at iHOPE, she previously worked in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as an Assistant Principal of Special Education. She began working in the field of education through Philadelphia Teaching Fellows, and has since gained over 6 years of working in Special Education, primarily with students with intellectual disabilities, autism, TBI, and 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


Name: Tiffany Semm
Title: Special Education Coordinator
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
Bio:Tiffany grew up in Colorado, earned a degrees in Linguistics, Political Science, and Psychology at the University of Missouri – Columbia. After graduating, she joined Teach for America and was assigned to teach special education in New York City in 2006. She earned her Master’s of Science in Teaching at Pace University. Since then, she has been teaching special education in all classroom settings, including both public and private schools, for students ages 4-21 with all ranges of disabilities. She started work at iHOPE in April of 2015, where she started their first 8:1:1 class for students with students with traumatic brain injury.
Family Origin:


Name: Dr. Aruna Karra
Title: Teacher
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE Email: Aruna.iHOPENYC@gmail.com
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, study on Social Skills of Children attending Special school and those receiving Home based intervention, 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 from 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 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 at 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 be 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: Christina.iHOPENYC@gmail.com
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


Name: Lindsey Garland
Title: Teacher
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
iHOPE Email: Lindsey.iHOPENYC@gmail.com
Bio: Lindsey Garland earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Childhood/Special Education and Journalism from New York University and is receiving 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. 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