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Psychology and ATP Partnership


How It Started
This program was started in the fall of 2023 by Wendy Quintana and Andrew Edwards. Wendy is one of two ATP teachers working to build life, career, and social skills for adults ages 18-21 with moderate to severe disabilities. Mr. Edwards is the US history and psychology teacher at Orange Grove High School, but before that he worked in the field of autism education as an ABA therapist for 8 years. Mr. Edwards has focused on teaching his psychology students how to apply behaviorist theory for many years. However, he felt that students were not able to truly learn psychological methods inside the classroom. Meanwhile Wendy felt that the collaboration of the 2 classes would allow the psychology students to practice the various theories in a real-life setting. While the ATP students teach the psychology students compassion, empathy and help them gain self-esteem. As the psychology students see the ATP students succeeding in society and handling similar problems to themselves, it ignites a spark in the psychology students to believe in themselves to be successful. 
The Vision
Together, they decided that the best way to meet their students' needs was to form a working relationship between them. Mr. Edwards would teach his students the psychological theories behind learning and teaching in order to have them teach specific life, career, and social skills to the ATP students. After several weeks of teaching, the psychology students would go out into the community with the ATP students to assess whether or not their teaching was successful.  The ATP students would teach the psychology students how to access and ride public transportation. The hope was that psychology students would not only have the opportunity to apply their learning, but that they would begin to see career opportunities in the field of psychology or working with the special needs population. 
The Impact
The results of this partnership have been profound. After teaching painting skills, psychology students worked on money and purchasing skills with their ATP partners, taking careful data to ensure their teaching was effective. A trip to The Crossings in Corona provided an opportunity to see the ATP students' learning in action. This has led to a deeper working relationship where the classes tackle bigger life skills, such as how to handle stress and problem-solve social situations. The result has been that several students are considering careers as paraeducators. 

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