Kristina's areas of expertise include:
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied Verbal Behavior
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Early Childhood Education & Child Development
Parenting styles and theories
Parent-Child Interactive Therapy
Infant/Family Mental Health - trauma-focused
Special Education Law (IDEIA)
Kristina's knowledge of disabilities include:
Emotional Disabilities (Mood disorders, PTSD, RAD, ODD, Personality Disorders, etc.)
Social Communication Disorder
Kristina is actively involved in the education, disability, and early learning communities. She stays current in the field as a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the AZ Association of Behavior Analysts (AzABA), the Association of Behavior Analysts International (ABAI), the Association of Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS), and the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Kristina participates in the AzABA ABA in Schools special interest group to bring awareness and action in the area of Education. Kristina has been appointed to the ADE Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP) since 2013 and was on the ADE Special Education Rule Committee. She also served for four years as a Board Member for the Arizona Food Allergy Alliance as well as the Board of Directors for the AZ Branch of International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Kristina was the only parent representative in a group of 35 community leaders from around the state to participate on the First Things First Task Force to develop the Arizona Early Childhood Plan.
Kristina has 30 years of experience in the field of Early Education, Early Intervention, and Mental Health. She has worked with the Parent Training Information Center for the state of Arizona (Raising Special Kids), as a Disability Specialist for Early Head Start, an Education Curriculum Specialist for Head Start, and a Mental Health Consultant for First Things First. Kristina is dedicated to supporting parents through the journey of special education and she provided special education consulting and advocacy to families across Arizona, Utah, and southern states for over 10 years.
Kristina has many years of first-hand experience advocating for and obtaining appropriate, effective special education services for four of her five children whom have various special needs including Bipolar Disorder, Autism, Anxiety disorder, Dyslexia, Hyperlexia, and Dyscalculia (Learning Disability in Mathematics), Tourette's Syndrome, ADHD (Executive Function Disorder), and OCD associated to PANDAS/PANS, post-concussive syndrome, and severe food allergies. Her eldest sons attend college in California and Arizona. Her next oldest son is a talented baseball athlete at his local high school. Kristina's two youngest are twins who are also athletes. Her four youngest children previously attended Breakthrough Academy to address their various needs and achieve their educational breakthroughs. Her children are the reasons why she started Breakthrough Academy, but your children are the reasons why she continues.
Kristina holds several degrees and certificates in order to best serve our learners. She obtained a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, a post-graduate certificate in Positive Behavior Support (PBS), a certificate as a Structured Literacy Teacher specializing in Dyslexia, a specialized certificate in Infant/Family Studies and Child Trauma, a post-baccalaureate certificate in Special Education, ADE Special Education teaching certificate, and is a certified Level 1 PEAK facilitator. Kristina most recently received training in Six Boxes Performance Thinking (R) and strives to continue her professional development to stay informed of effective practices and science-based education.
Kristina completed the coursework in 2011and supervision in 2018 toward eligible for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam. She attended the highly-regarded, intensive Morningside Academy Summer School Institute in Seattle to study Precision Teaching and Mathetics (from which Direct Instruction is derived). She was trained in several evidence-based program including Lindamood-Bell programs including LiPS, Seeing Stars, and Visualizing & Verbalizing programs, the Wilson Reading System and Wilson Just Words programs, Social Thinking(TM), Handwriting without Tears, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (training), Person-Centered Planning, Relational Frame Theory, Handwriting without Tears, Cogmed, TTRS, and Collaborative Problem Solving.