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Atlas Foundation For Autism

Atlas Staff

Atlas Administration


Amanda Friedman
Amanda Friedman, MSEd, SBL
Executive Director

Featured Articles By or About Amanda

Amanda is the founder and Executive Director of the Atlas Foundation for Autism and a special education teacher with over 18 years experience within the educational field. She is a SUNY New Paltz alumni and has completed the Administrative Certification Program from the College of Saint Rose/CITE. Amanda has worked with students ranging in age from 3 – 25 years old with an array of differences including Autism, Cognitive Delays, Emotional Disturbances (PTSD, Schizophrenia, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, etc.) and other learning and developmental challenges. Prior to Atlas, Amanda had co-founded and run the Emerge & See Education Center polishing the framework for the integrative model that now is the baseline for the Atlas' program philosophy. Amanda has been through certified trainings in ABA, TEACCH, BART, and multiple trainings in DIR/Floortime. She is proud to act as a liaison within the NY ASD and special ed community sharing resources, support, and heart with our incredible students, families, and other community leaders.


Robert Taylor
Robert Taylor
Staff and Student Program Supervisor

Robert Taylor has over 15 years working with children, young adults, and seniors with diverse developmental differences. He has had multiple trainings in BART, safety measures, behavioral supports etc. Albeit, Robert's greatest knowledge comes from respecting students and learning their ways of navigating the world and communication. He believes that in order to truly help a child one must be consistent, mentally present, and observing all of the time. Communication comes in many forms and sometimes simplicity and trust are the greatest foundations.


Jennifer Fiorentino
Jennifer Fiorentino,

My position at Atlas includes school admissions, human resources, interfacing with families and lawyers, billing, board development, strategic planning, budgeting, etc. I have an MBA in Finance and 25 years experience in the non-profit sector. I love working with Atlas because it provides an invaluable educational setting for its students where they are respected and valued and each child is supported to grow to his/her greatest potential.


Alex Rivera
Alex Rivera,
Program Supervisor & Educational Instructor

Alex has been working with children & young adults with diverse developmental differences for over 3 years now.He is a certified CPI (Crisis Prevention Intervention)instructor. Alex truly respects the neurodiversity of the individuals he works with and hopes to be a driving force in bringing about more acceptance and positive change to our community.


Faith Thayer
Faith Thayer, PhD, LPC, LCAT, ATR-BC
Director of Student Programing

Dr. Thayer is an ICDL Expert Training Leader & DIR Floortime® Provider; Registered, Board Certified Art Therapist; Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC); and Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT). She is an assistant professor in the Graduate Program of Special Education at Daemen College TTI. She is the former Director of Mental Health and DIR Floortime® at the Imagine Academy for Autism in Brooklyn and the former Director of the Creative Arts Therapy Center and Overnight Camps for the Connecticut Institute for the Blind/Oak Hill. She received her Doctor of Philosophy degree from Lesley University, which culminated in her dissertation entitled Evaluation of a Developmental Individualized Relationship (DIR®) and Creative Arts Therapies Program for Children with Autism.


Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen, MA, EDTC
Administrative Assistant

Matthew is a native New Yorker and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities from NYU Steinhardt. Matthew has worked in various offices in an administrative capacity for over a decade. The combination of his office experience and his background in education makes Atlas an ideal setting! While not at Atlas, Matthew can be seen on stage as a professional actor and singer.

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Kristein Lenzo
Kristin Lenzo, M.S., OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

Kristin is a licensed and registered occupational therapist who earned her Master’s of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Seton Hall University. Prior to earning her master’s degree, she studied at The College of Staten Island and received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology. Throughout the past eight years she has gained experience with children of all ages that have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) while working at The GRACE foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing support, education, and direct services to individuals and their families that are impacted by ASD. Kristin is a motivated team player and believes that with support, each child has the potential to meet their individual goals, improving their quality of life.


Erica Rahavy
Erica Rahavy, MS
School Psychologist

Erica has been the Atlas School Psychologist for since 2015. Erica received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Boston University, and her Masters in School Psychology from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has worked with children with special needs in a variety of settings, including inpatient psychiatric, BOCES, and non-public schools. In addition to her certification as a School Psychologist, Erica became a certified RDI Consultant in 2009, and has also received certification in Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention, Cornell University's Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, and clinical training in administration of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale (ADOS). Erica has presented at the Annual Relationship Development Intervention Conference, for the New York Association for Applied Behavior Analysis, and the Keyspan Lecture Series. One of Erica's most humbling positions is as the mother of two young boys.


Justine Parrinello
Justine Parrinello, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist



Atlas Staff
Rey Rivera,
Art & Music Educator

Rey Rivera has 10 years’ experience working with special needs children and adults ages 5- 20. He has worked in multiple capacities in serving our young people. His experience includes designing music and art activities and providing teacher assistance, and behavioral support. His main focus is the music and art program. He comes with 20 years of experience of music production in Hip Hop, R&B, dance, and electronic music. He is also a very talented artist whose style is very diverse allowing each student to express themselves freely because he firmly believes that art and music should flow naturally and organically. He says “You cannot force open the petals of a flower. When the flower is ready it will open itself up to you.”


Atlas Staff
Jacqueline Kelly,

Jacqueline is the teacher of the class known as Compass Rose which has children ages 7-12 all with whom have Autism.She has worked in Special Ed. since the age of 14 starting out at a summer camp called camp A.N.C.H.O.R ( Answering , Needs. Citizens, Handicapped , Organized , Recreation) - Post College Jacqueline went on to obtain her masters in Special Ed and General Ed. She has since worked as a lead teacher for special needs children ranging in ages. Jacqueline chose to come to Atlas wanting to work with an older population and for a change of pace but will always wanting to be in with a special needs population :0)


Kyle Wright
Kyle Wright,

Kyle is a special education teacher who has experience working with students on the autism spectrum. A native of the Hudson Valley, he received his Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY Oswego and is currently attending Hunter College to receive his Master of Science in Special Education. Kyle has experience working in the DIR/Floortime model as well as ABA model of treatment. He is certified in CPR/first aid as well as DASA anti-bullying and SAVE school violence prevention. Kyle has a passion for special education and helping each child succeed in all areas of their development. He believes Atlas provides a place for students to learn, grown, and explore. In his free time he likes to be outside and active. Kyle is looking forward to a wonderful school year at Atlas!


Atlas Staff
Danny Licker,

Danny Licker is a Graduate of Manhattanville college with a duel degree in both education and political science. Being exposed to Autism at a very young age Danny started volunteering with the Special Olympics as well as other local organizations at the age of 9. Danny continued to volunteer there until leaving for boarding school where he did an independent yearlong study on special education with a focus on Autism. Danny then took a gap year after his sophomore year at Manhattanville to go work on a life sharing community. A life sharing community is a sustainable working farm as well as a safe space for adults with different developmental disabilities. At this farm Danny continued his understanding of the importance of multi strategic learning. Danny then came to Atlas School after a year of working in Michigan in multiple different schools with students performing below the teachers perceived ability level. Danny loves the multi strategic modality that Atlas utilizes to help reach out to every single student who walks through the doors.


Atlas Staff
Amanda Faison,

Amanda Faison comes to ATLAS from Newark Public schools where she worked for five years as a special education teacher instructing a self-contained class for students with autism. There she incorporated elements of both a behavioral and relationship-based approach to working with students.
Amanda received her Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied literature and photography. Prior to becoming a teacher, Amanda worked in film, television and theatre. She obtained her Masters in Education from Montclair State University where she participated in the Newark/ Montclair Urban Teacher Residency Program. As a teacher, Amanda starts from the premise that all students can learn, grow and develop. She brings her rich interests in the arts, yoga, communication and connection to the classroom where she works hard to get to know her students and what helps them thrive.

Jeff Schein

Jeff Schein
Jeff Schein,
Educational Instructor

Jeff has over six years' experience working with students ages 3 to 21 on the autism spectrum. He has a degree in psychology from The New School and studied music at Berklee College of Music. Jeff understands that each student has uniquely different needs, and approaches each student with kindness and compassion. One of the reasons Jeff is excited to work at Atlas is Atlas's commitment to finding the individualized approach that works best for each student. A gifted guitarist, singer and harmonica player, Jeff loves to connect with students through music.

Liz Hopkins

Liz Hopkins
Liz Hopkins, BFA
Educational Instructor

Liz Hopkins completed her Bachelors degree at Lehman College studying art and psychology. Throughout college, Liz worked worked with Jumpstart Americorp teaching literacy development to children in low-income neighborhoods.

After graduating, Liz began working with children and young adults who have neuro-developmental delays in relating and communicating utilizing the DIR floor-time methodology .She believes strongly and works using art education as well to help students relieve stress and build focus, while fostering confidence, and creativity.

Atlas’s unique approach to supporting students while giving them the space they need to flourish is what Liz appreciates the most. Liz is looking forward to a great school year at Atlas!


Taylor Nelson
Taylor Nelson,
Educational Instructor

Taylor is a college graduate from University at Buffalo with a bachelors degree in Education. She has worked with children of all ages and volunteered at many different organizations since the beginning of her high school career. She loves working with children and hopes to pursue a masters degree in special education. She is very excited about working at Atlas and hopes to gain more experience as the years go by.


Lamont Thomas
Lamont Thomas,
Educational Instructor

Lamont Thomas is a native New Yorker who has always enjoyed working with kids. He has worked with kids since he was a teenager concentrating on both work and leisure skills . Lamont has experience with teaching life skills and in the last couple of years has worked within BOE D75 school setting - His personal passion for art, music, travel, and technology along with his artistic ability keeps him open minded and able to accept people fully for who they are and what different backgrounds they come from. Lamont's style is calm and undemanding creating a sense of freedom for students to work at their own pace . Lamont says Atlas is unique because of its small and intimate size. The school is powerful and has impact because students get the attention and exposure to a wide array of personalities and experiences that they wouldn't in a larger setting.


Maxine Cintron
Maxine Cintron,
Educational Instructor

Maxine loves working in the field and at atlas because it gives her a chance to work with persons of all cultures personalities and back grounds with kids that need special attention and support. Maxine has been in the field for 20 years and holds a degree in medical assistance. She plans to attend college in the near future for disability studies hoping to combine both her education and experience to better help support those with whom she works.


Sydney Landsman
Sydney Landsman,
Educational Instructor

Sydney is a college graduate with a bachelors degree in psychology. She is currently getting her masters degree in Occupational Therapy at New York Institute of Technology. Sydney has been working with special needs children since her undergraduate career. She has experience in the Applied Behavior Analysis model. Sydney has a passion working with special needs children and helping them learn, grow, and succeed in all aspects of life. She is looking forward to a great school year at Atlas!

News & Featured Content

  • Atlas Summer Camp

    When schools are closed, Atlas is open! Program days run from 9:00am to 6:30pm with early drop off and late pick up available. Atlas programs adhere to both social and educational standards for students to build joyful relationships and gain the ultimate learning experiences while schools are not in session.

  • Big Daddy Autism - Documentry by Aaron Feinstein

    A documentry about the inspiring relationship between a divorced father with sole-custody of his son, Alex, a non-verbal 16yr old on the autism spectrum. (An Atlas Family)

View All Featured Content

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