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Theresa Thoene Awarded Patty Dean Memorial Special Education Grant

Theresa Thoene accepts grant check from MRTA

November 2, 2023 - Theresa Thoene, registered behavior technician (RBT) at Parkway Schools, won a Patty Dean Memorial Special Education Grant from the Missouri Retired Teachers Foundation (MRTA). Representatives from the organization visited her school, Shenandoah Valley Elementary, at the beginning of the school year to present her with a $500 check. She was recognized for her implementation of Preschool Life Skills. Thoene collaborated with Bonnie Robinson, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), for initial planning and will be running the programming under Robinson’s guidance this school year.

Dr. Gregory Hanley developed the curriculum to help children who need additional support with social communication and repetitive patterns of behavior,” said Thoene. “The skills help students to make requests, follow directions, tolerate delays, and develop friendships. Learning life skills is important to increase independence at home, at school and in the community. In my class, we’ll use games, pictures, story books, and drawings to teach students these social skills, how to remain engaged, and become familiar with colors, shapes, numbers, and prepositions.”

Theone used the money to purchase 3D books and visual timers, which help students with Autism and anxiety understand how much time they have when it comes to sharing, taking turns, and breaks. She also purchased textured items that promote stress relief, stimulation, and calmness. 

“The best part of my job is seeing my students learn, even if it’s little steps,” said Theone. “Once the skills are learned, we work on generalization skills outside of the group setting. The progress made by my students and the end result is amazing to see.” 

For more information about MRTA grants, visit