Summer/Fall 2019 Newsletter

Development Message

The Victory Center is a home for students to learn and grow in a nurturing environment that best positions them to reach their fullest potential. This is all made possible by a host of the generous benefactors that are committed to the success of each and every student. Because of the support from our generous benefactors this past year, we were able to advance a plethora of activities and initiatives, including our tuition assistance program that provided scholarships to more than 40% of the student population.

We were also able to begin the construction of a brand-new, fully-equipped sensory playground that will ensure the safety and security of our more challenged students. As we prepare for the 2019-2020 academic year and as the prevalence of autism continues to rise,  we anticipate our biggest financial challenges yet as we seek to provide our much-needed services to more families than ever before. The demand for our unique services is at an all-time high and as we embark on this upcoming year, I challenge each of our families and friends to double down on their support and to get involved. We are stronger together and with your support, we will continue to advance our mission and provide the highest quality care to students affected by autism from across the South Florida community.

A Look Back At New Beginnings

As the 2018-2019 academic year closed, we reflect on the progress that the students have made, the professional growth of teachers, and the research conducted. These accomplishments align with delivering evidence-based education, training teachers, and advancing autism research.

The year started with great anticipation as we opened in a new state-of-the-art facility designed to suit the students’ needs. This change was made possible through the dedication and support of the leadership, Board of Directors and community supporters. The new facility offers a pivotal opportunity to serve additional students in a welcoming environment and promote greater parent involvement so that we may continue to be a beacon of hope for the autism community.

We also completed the transition to a cloud-based system for data collection by incorporating Catalyst which was made possible through a generous grant from the Health Foundation of South Florida. Catalyst is used to measure student performance and provides access to real-time data on student progress from web enabled devices. The information promotes parent involvement, increased collaboration as well as efficient decision-making regarding customizing the child’s education. We conducted and presented research on the advantages of cloud-based platforms at national and local autism conferences. We hope to publish this research in a peer-reviewed journal to educate other service providers who may be considering a similar transition.

This year, we partnered with Relias through a generous grant from the Health Foundation of South Florida. Relias offers teachers access to a web-based library of interactive training modules specific to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The platform also provides teachers with coursework to become credentialed as Registered Behavior Technicians and offers Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) continuing education. This year, four teachers earned their master’s degree and/or become BCBAs. We will be entering the new school year with five BCBAs to support increased supervision across education programs.

The school year ended with the Achievement Ceremony themed “The Victory League: Academy of Superheroes.” The event represented the many victories that were made with effective teamwork, leadership, dedication as well as community support. It is with excitement that we look forward to what we, together, can accomplish in the year ahead.

The year started with great anticipation as we opened in a new state-of-the-art facility designed to suit the students’ needs. This change was made possible through the dedication and support of the leadership, Board of Directors and community supporters. The new facility offers a pivotal opportunity to serve additional students in a welcoming environment and promote greater parent involvement so that we may continue to be a beacon of hope for the autism community.

We also completed the transition to a cloud-based system for data collection by incorporating Catalyst which was made possible through a generous grant from the Health Foundation of South Florida. Catalyst is used to measure student performance and provides access to real-time data on student progress from web enabled devices. The information promotes parent involvement, increased collaboration as well as efficient decision-making regarding customizing the child’s education. We conducted and presented research on the advantages of cloud-based platforms at national and local autism conferences. We hope to publish this research in a peer-reviewed journal to educate other service providers who may be considering a similar transition.

This year, we partnered with Relias through a generous grant from the Health Foundation of South Florida. Relias offers teachers access to a web-based library of interactive training modules specific to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The platform also provides teachers with coursework to become credentialed as Registered Behavior Technicians and offers Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) continuing education. This year, four teachers earned their master’s degree and/or become BCBAs. We will be entering the new school year with five BCBAs to support increased supervision across education programs.

The school year ended with the Achievement Ceremony themed “The Victory League: Academy of Superheroes.” The event represented the many victories that were made with effective teamwork, leadership, dedication as well as community support. It is with this sentiment that I look forward to what we, together, can accomplish in the year ahead.

Message From Raquel Pancer, CEO

As the summer comes to an end, I am thrilled to welcome back the staff, students, and families of The Victory Center for the 2019-2020 academic year. This past year was filled with so many highlights and it was truly a pleasure to witness students in each program making such tremendous strides. As we embark on the upcoming academic year, my expectations are high because I know our students are resilient and capable of anything they put their minds to.

In the months ahead, the entire Victory Center team will be committed to empowering each of our students and equipping them with the necessary tools to learn, grow, and thrive. With this new start and with the recent growth of our BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) team, we are able to deliver on our mission like never before by ensuring access to the highest quality services for our students. Additionally, these structural enhancements better position us to equip our teachers with the resources needed to continue their professional development. I am excited to usher in this new chapter because I know we have a dedicated team of professionals that are committed to changing the lives of students each and every day.

On behalf of the entire Victory Center team, including Board Members, staff, and volunteers, welcome back and let’s have an amazing year!   

Raquel Pancer
CEO

Message From Maria Soto, Senior Lead Teacher

Since starting at The Victory Center over 9 years ago, I have witnessed many changes. I started with minimal experience in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). However, I quickly realized that this was the career I wanted to pursue. I started as a teacher and now I can proudly say that I am a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and recently promoted to Senior Lead. I am very grateful to The Victory Center for equipping me with the necessary knowledge and skills to become a BCBA. I hope to continue to grow professionally as the Center continues to grow. I have had the privilege of attending multiple national ABA conferences and participating in research that was presented at these conferences. I can honestly say that I owe everything I know to The Victory Center and the mentoring that I’ve received from the Education and Assistant Education Directors.

I have worked with many wonderful individuals ages of 4 to 22.  It has been fulfilling and emotional to see the students that I have worked with gain functional skills to increase their independence. I have witnessed students progressing from using 1-2-word communication to having a conversation with their teachers, such as telling them their likes and dislikes. I have also taught a student to use a personal communication device to request items and activities from his teachers, as well as increased student work tolerance in preparation for adult life. I am excited to see what the new school year will bring as I aim to help the Center and students continue to grow as a BCBA and Senior Lead. 

Maria Soto, MS, BCBA
Senior Lead Teacher