Mount Union Announces Launch of Spectrum Education Center

May 25, 2016

Kristine TurkoALLIANCE, Ohio – The University of Mount Union is pleased to announce the launch of the Spectrum Education Center.

The Center provides training and education for people who are interested in autism intervention and advocacy. It also manages the Spectrum Program, which gives Mount Union students the opportunity to explore careers in disability services through semester-long internships.

In addition, educational opportunities are available to members of the community who want to learn more about developmental disabilities.

Dr. Kristine Turko, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Mount Union, is the newly appointed director of the Center. She is the founder of the Spectrum Program, which began in 2014 (formerly known as the Spectrum Education Foundation). She is also a member of the board of The Arc of Ohio for Stark County.

Students enrolled in the Spectrum Program gain applied experience through internships, while taking complementary coursework and earning credits towards graduation. This immersive experience provides unique experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students, and is unlike any other program in the country. The Center plans to expand this opportunity to other area colleges and universities.

The Center’s inaugural group of three interns recently completed the Spectrum Program at the following partner sites: The Arc Ohio in North Canton, Ohio, Gentle Brook in Hartville, Ohio and Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children in Canton, Ohio.

This program continues the tradition of Mount Union students providing outreach services to people with autism. In 2007, Turko established a summer internship program with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism for Mount Union students. The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) and Cleveland Business Connects (CBC) magazine nominated it as one of the best internships in Northeast Ohio 2010-12.

The internship has been instrumental in preparing a highly trained, educated workforce. To date, 52 Mount Union students have completed the summer internship program, with the majority employed in disability services after graduation.

Turko earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Cognitive Psychology from Lehigh University, and a B.S. degree in Psychology from Drexel University. In addition, she completed the required graduate-level coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

Before becoming a faculty member at the University of Mount Union in 2006, she served as a visiting assistant professor at Lafayette College and an adjunct professor at Lehigh University. She also conducted research at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute and McNeil Consumer Products, both in Philadelphia, PA.

She continues her research related to: best practice for autism intervention in adult populations, and effective autism intervention training and education models for undergraduate students.

For more information, contact Turko at turkoks@mountunion.edu.

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