The Owner and President of Allied Instructional Services received her bachelor’s degree in vision disabilities with a dual certification in Vision Impairments and Orientation and Mobility from Florida State University (FSU). She continued at FSU to receive her Master’s degree in special education with a concentration in emotional disabilities and learning disabilities. She has been working in the field of blindness/vision impairments and education for the past 25 years and has been privately contracting services for the past 17 years. During her years as an educator, she has been a mentor teacher for student teachers/interns and first-year teachers, and she has been employed as an Internship Supervisor for the Vision Program at George Mason University and James Madison University. She is a Past President of the Virginia Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Vision Impaired and has served on the Membership Committee at the National Level. She is dedicated to ensuring that all students receive the appropriate educational services that they need to succeed. Karen began Allied Instructional Services in 2010 with the intention to expand her offering of services to the following service areas: Vision, Orientation and Mobility, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Interpreters. Karen has built a leadership staff that has expertise in the above respective areas.
The Vice President of Human Resource Management, Karen Vay Walker, graduated from Lynchburg College with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education. She comes to AIS with 30 years experience in the education field. Her career began in Richmond City Schools, serving children that she believed would benefit from a multi-team approach. While there she was pivotal in creating and securing federal funds for a program called Project Enhance that focused on serving children from a three-tiered approach. Later, she simultaneously pursued a degree in Vision Impairments from UVA and Early Childhood Special Education from VCU. Besides serving as a classroom teacher, an Itinerant Vision Therapist and Developmental Specialist, she was the Program Director and Local System Manager for the Infant and Toddler Connection of Hanover for 15 years. During this time, Karen worked closely with state and local personnel to establish mandated private insurance and Medicaid billing and led state training for Part C implementation of cost agreement fees. She led and supervised a team committed to serving families and facilitated continual training that enhanced her staff’s ability to meet the growing and changing needs in the educational field. Karen utilizes her experience from this role to support AIS’s vision in staffing top-notch educators to meet the needs of local school systems and their students.
Mary Hall graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration. She worked for Hanover County Public Schools as the Medicaid Account Specialist. She worked closely with occupational, physical and speech therapists to improve their Medicaid reimbursement, growing Hanover’s program by over 500%. In addition, she was able to build a partnership with private insurance companies to institute billing capabilities for Early Intervention Services for the Infant and Toddler Connection of Hanover. While in Hanover she served on the board for the National Alliance for Medicaid in Education in multiple capacities ranging from conference planning, to regional representative, membership chair, and finally treasurer. She also presented at state wide trainings for the VA Department of Education. Since graduating from college, Mary has served on many volunteer boards as treasurer.
Cheryl Sale is a certified Audiologist and Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a Masters degree in Habilitative Audiology from the University of Virginia. She has worked in clinical settings, including UVA Medical Center and Pratt Medical Center, as an audiologist and as a hearing aid specialist. In addition, Cheryl has many years of experience in working in public school systems as a Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Educational Audiologist, and Director of Hearing Impaired Programs.
Kira received her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Old Dominion University and continued in Norfolk, at ODU, to earn her Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2008. She has worked primarily in pediatrics for the last 11 years. Kira began in brand new outpatient sports medicine program with Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, and continued to contribute to the growth and expansion of the program until relocating to the Charlottesville area. She then transitioned to neuro-developmental pediatrics with the opportunity to bring physical therapy services to a growing multidisciplinary (speech and occupational therapy) practice. Along with treating in an outpatient setting, Kira has contracted with AIS for the last 3 years as a school-based physical therapist. Through her professional experiences, Kira has had the opportunity with work with toddlers, school-aged children and adolescents with a wide variety of diagnoses and abilities, and often in collaboration with other valuables disciplines. She is licensed by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and is a board certified Sports Medicine Clinical Specialist.
Meredith Shockley received her Bachelor of Art degree from Gardner Webb University in American Sign Language and minored in interpreting. She then pursued her Masters degree from University of Minnesota in Special Education with a focus on Deaf education. A few years ago, she went back to school to get her Visual Impairments certification. She has taught American Sign Language classes, Deaf/hard of hearing self-contained classes, and itinerant teaching. She is also an EIPA nationally certified interpreter. In her spare time, Meredith enjoys performing in theatre productions and traveling.
Chelsey received her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology at Radford University and her Master’s of Occupational Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University. During her educational and professional experiences, Chelsey has worked in a variety of settings and with people of all ages. She has experience working with clients in the public school setting, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient rehabilitation, early intervention and a pediatric private practice. Chelsey has experience working with children with autism, down syndrome, attention deficit disorder, developmental delay, developmental coordination disorder, sensory processing disorder, and auditory processing disorder. She enjoys working with children of all ages and abilities through direct one-on-one services and social skills play groups to help them maximize their independence in activities of daily living and self-help skills. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, scrapbooking, and is an active member/volunteer at Area 10 Faith Community.
Heidi has over 30 years of experience as a licensed and certified Speech-Language Pathologist. She completed her undergraduate studies in Speech and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Audiology at Rutgers University and received her Master’s of Science Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from James Madison. Over the course of her 30-year career she has worked with a diverse population of children and adults in acute care, inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation, home health, public and private school settings and in private practice. She has a great deal of knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment processes of children with autism, apraxia of speech, severe language and communication disorders, language-based literacy disorders, social and pragmatic language delays as well as swallowing and feeding disorders. She has been specifically trained in the Greenspan Floortime Approach, Zones of Regulation, the Beckman Oral Motor Program, Oral Placement Therapy and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). She furthered her AAC knowledge by performing evaluations and treating in a multidisciplinary approach, developed AAC and AT programs in the school setting, and trained staff in the use and implementation of AAC in the classroom. She works diligently with colleagues and families to ensure that every child has a voice.
Kate Worcester is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist with over 12 years experience. She received her undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from James Madison University and her graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Virginia. After graduating, Kate began her career as a school-based speech-language pathologist in Hanover County, Virginia. While in Hanover, she worked with students with a variety of needs and loved watching students make progress toward their communication goals. She was also part of a county-wide interdisciplinary evaluation team that assisted school-based teams in identifying students for autism spectrum disorder. After 11 years in Hanover, she began contracting with AIS and is now excited to begin her role as a Speech Language Services Coordinator.
Sarah Bussey is a Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist, Certified Teacher of Students with Vision Impairments and Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. She earned her undergraduate degree in Vision Disabilities from Florida State University and her two Master’s Degrees in Orientation & Mobility and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy from Hunter College CUNY. Over the past 9 years, Sarah has worked with state agencies, non-profits, and school districts to provide vision services to their consumers. She has taken the opportunity to work with both children and adults with vision impairments and to teach them how to thrive in their home, school and community environments. Sarah enjoys working alongside her colleagues with the goal of sharing professional experiences and teaching techniques which take students to the next level.
Kristen Lavergne graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with her Master of Arts in Special Education: Severe Needs Vision. She went on to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry to obtain her Master of Science in Orientation and Mobility. She has been a teacher of Students with Vision Impairments and a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist for over 15 years. She began her career in Academy District Twenty in Colorado Springs, Colorado until she moved to Virginia in October 2008. For the next four years she worked for Pulaski County Public Schools as an Itinerant Teacher of the Blind and Vision Impaired. In the fall of 2012, Kristen accepted a contract as a service provider for AIS and accepted the position as a Vision Services Coordinator in 2013. She has continued her involvement with training and presenting in her membership with AER.
Gwyn Suttell has been a Teacher of the Blind and Vision Impaired and certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist for over 15 years. Gwyn received her BS in Education and Vision Impairments from Kutztown University and her MS in O & M from Salus University. Her career began in Rockingham County. Gwyn had the opportunity to work at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (VSDB-S) as their Orientation and Mobility specialist and goalball coach. Later she moved back to her position as TVI with Rockingham County schools where she also served on their assistive technology team until 2013. In 2013, Gwyn was given the opportunity to serve Allied Instructional Services as one of the Lead Teachers of the Blind and Vision Impaired. Allied Instructional Services is able to afford her the opportunity to work with more students with blindness and vision impairments across Virginia and use her years of experience to mentor other Teachers of the Blind and Vision Impaired. Gwyn is also a member of AER and utilizes every opportunity to enhance her knowledge of vision impairments.
Christina Liebler is a certified teacher and instructional specialist for the blind and visually impaired. She received her BA in Sociology from Kent State University in 1997. Prior to earning her graduate certification in Special Education for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Christina supervised a one-on-one mentoring program for adolescents with mental, behavioral, and developmental disabilities in North Carolina (2000-2005). Christina received the 2016 Delta Gamma Graduate Student Fellowship Award, a Barbara McCarthy Virginia AER Scholarship in 2017, and was awarded a Gloucester Community Foundation Grant in 2015 to purchase assistive technology for students with visual impairments in her county. Christina has a passion for learning Assistive Technology for the blind and visually impaired and increasing access for students, families, and educators.
Suzy Aunspach has been active in the field of education for 31 years. During that time, she has been a Teacher of the Blind and Vision Impaired, a certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, and, most recently, an Assistant Principal.
Suzy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and Vision Impairments from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and her Master of Science degree in O & M and Special Education from Vanderbilt University. A firm believer in continuing education, Suzy added endorsements in Infant/Family Intervention from VCU and Education Leadership/Supervision from William and Mary.
Suzy’s career began with the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, as an O&M instructor, an Education Coordinator and an Infant/Family Specialist. Suzy accepted the challenge and opportunity of becoming the Teacher of the Visually Impaired with West Point Public Schools, later advancing to the position of Assistant Principal at West Point High School.
In 2019, Suzy joined Allied Instructional Services as one of the Lead Teachers of the Blind and Vision Impaired. Suzy is thrilled to be working with students with visual impairments again – her first passion! Suzy’s work with the team at Allied Instructional Services affords her the opportunity to return to instructing students with blindness and vision impairments in Virginia, and to apply her years of experience and knowledge of special education to help teachers in developing strong IEP’s.
Dawn Zepernick received her Bachelor’s of Science in Information Systems from Strayer University. She is a certified by the Library of Congress as a Braille Transcriber and is proficient in Unified English Braille. Over the past 14 years, she worked for the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) as an Information Technology Specialist/Braille Unit Manager. During her time with DBVI, she worked with, and was exposed to, various types of assistive technologies. She enjoys working with individuals who are blind and vision impaired to assist them in becoming more independent in their school, home, and community. She enjoys training by sharing her love of assistive technology with others.