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.

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.”

Steven graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Psychology. He went on to get his Master’s degree in Psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis at Capella University before getting his BCBA.

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!”

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, having new adventures and sleeping in the few remaining hours.

Marissa is a native to San Diego, received her BS at SDSU in kinesiology and business and completed her COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) program at Grossmont College.

Molly was born and raised in Encinitas, CA. She received her Bachelor’s and credentials in Special Education at Eastern Washington State. This coming school year (2018-2019) will be Molly’s 4th year in the Transition/High school program at Pioneer.

Shari graduated from Humboldt State University in 2001, with a BA in Liberal Studies/Elementary Education. She obtained a Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Diego State University in 2004. In 2017, Shari obtained a Moderate/Severe Education Specialist Credential from Point Loma Nazarene University. Shari began working at The Community School of San Diego in 2006.Shari has been instrumental for the advancement and implementation of the schools mission by creating curriculum, establishing behavior models, and working with students directly. What motivates Shari to work at The Community School of San Diego for 12 years, is all the success she has experienced while employed here. She has witnessed non-verbal students say words for the first time, aggressive students using coping strategies, students expressing their needs and wants through language, and the overall ability to be flexible when things change or are different. Shari truly believes The Community School is like a family for diverse students from all levels and backgrounds.

Angelina moved to San Diego after completion of her undergraduate degree in Special Education from Concordia University of Chicago. Angelina currently holds a moderate/severe special education teacher credential in California.

Blake completed her undergraduate degree in Child Development with a minor in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience at San Diego State University. She received her teaching credentials from Point Loma Nazarene University where she is finishing up her Master’s degree in Special Education.

“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.”