Before coming to Felician, Dr. Croce was the Director of the ASERT (Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training) Grant at Drexel University which worked to bring together resources for supporting and understanding the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She says she found her calling after having the opportunity to work with a three-year old student with autism. “I didn’t know anything about autism, but I was looking for a job in my field. And by the end of the summer, I knew that this was what I would do for the rest of my life.”
Now she’s excited to be working alongside Dr. Stephanie McGowan, Dean of Felician’s School of Education, and Behavior Analyst, Dr. John Burke, to develop practicums for students to acquire field experience hours which she says are similar to internships in that, “students are actually in the field, in homes, in clinics, in schools providing behavior analytic services to individuals that need support.” Dr. Burke and McGowan are definitely the type of team Dr. Croce was hoping for and she, “feels blessed and grateful that I get to work next to and partner with them.” Part of the connection Dr. Croce says is the Felician mission to, “really serve the underserved.”
And Dr. Croce also has what she calls a “side passion project.” She and a former colleague, Jamie Salter wrote a book called Self & Match which teaches individuals how to monitor their behaviors, and also helps teachers learn how to develop self- monitoring interventions in their classrooms. “We created a self-monitoring system that we go around the world and do presentations about, and it is to help not just individuals with autism, but any students that may be exhibiting any challenging behavior to really learn how to self- monitor and self-regulate and become more independent.” Dr. Croce’s extensive background also includes having served as a Special Education Coordinator, instrumental in the development and oversight of educational programming available to students placed in an in-patient crisis hospital.
In remembering the first meeting she had with Dr. Sylvia McGeary, Felician V.P. of Academic Affairs and Mission Integration, Dr. Croce says she was moved by the story of the Felician Sisters. “Dr. McGeary talked about the mission of the Felician Sisters and the war that was happening and how they didn’t turn any soldier away. And I felt like they were speaking the language of our field, because that’s where we have blossomed as behavior analysts, we take the problem that people are having a difficult time solving, or we seek the challenging cases that nobody else knows what to do with and we’ll try to help and figure it out.”
Dr. Croce says even before the Sisters knew what autism was, they were preaching exactly what her field of Behavior Analysis represents calling it “such a nice marriage.”