The staff at Pioneer Programs go above and beyond to meet the needs of each student in our school. Each brings their own skills, expertise and experience to the daily task of educating our students and teaching skills that will last a lifetime. Our staff uses every interaction as an opportunity to teach with creativity, humor, and patience. Our team works together to always stay high energy and positive and remain good role models for our students.

“Treat people as if they are what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”


In 2001, Jim moved to San Diego from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and accepted a position as a 1:1 special education teacher for a student with autism. The school’s location was a gazebo in the back yard of the student’s house because his parents could not find an appropriate school to meet his unique educational needs. This experience led Jim to the vision of Pioneer Day School. A small school where each student’s unique strengths and abilities could be celebrated and developed within a supportive and community-oriented environment. In 2003, Pioneer Day school opened its doors with 1 student.

“It has been such a pleasure to see our program develop from the very beginning. We started our school on the premise that every child can learn to be successful, and we work very hard each and every day to achieve that goal, one student at a time.”

A.J. attended University of California at San Diego and took every behavior class that was offered, while earning his Bachelors in Psychology. He received training as a behavior consultant and has tutored children in the areas of Applied Behavior Analysis. His experience has led to improving the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by Autism and other special needs.

“What I like most about Pioneer is that every student is put into a position to succeed. With a team approach, the school is structured to guide students to excel and surpass expectations. The teachers facilitate an environment that helps develop social interaction and supports healthy friendship building.”

Amber is a graduate of San Diego State University and received her multiple-subject teaching credential from Humboldt State University. She went back to school part-time to pursue graphic and website design. Amber enjoys reading, creating all sorts of art, spending time with friends and family, having new adventures and sleeping in the few remaining hours.

Kelly dual majored in Special and General Education and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Providence College. She began her teaching career in Brooklyn, NY at a specialized elementary school for children with Autism. She immediately fell in love with her profession and has worked with this population of students for many years. She likes to spend her free time with her family and friends, going to the beach and relaxing with a good book!

“Working at Pioneer has really been a great experience for me. The general feeling of a “community of friends” among both the staff and students is one that I have yet to experience anywhere else. We all truly support each other and work wonderfully as a team!”