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An elementary school boy sits in front of a computer in his special education school while holding up a page of autographs.



Meet Marina: Autism Support Teacher

Meet Marina: Autism Support Teacher

March 1 is Employee Appreciation Day! We are celebrating our team members all month long by sharing their stories. Read more about Marina Mazaheri, Autism Support Teacher, and her journey as someone with autism becoming a teacher at our Lancaster, PA campus.  

What is your favorite thing about working here?  

I love the sense of community that we have built here. Everybody is welcoming and supportive.  

What keeps you coming to work each day? 

Knowing that I am a part of the positive change and that I am vital in making somebody’s day better.  

How do you make an impact on students’ lives?  

I always knew I wanted to be an autism support teacher because I have autism myself. I didn’t have an inclusive and accepting upbringing in the education system. When I was a child, it was a completely different viewpoint on how to support autistic needs. When I found that there was a school where I could be an autism support teacher, it was my dream come true! I knew I could empathize with the students and give my unique perspective on their needs. I can relate to them in many ways, so I look to make sure this generation feels less alone and give them all the opportunities they need to succeed.   

Last year, we rolled out our BetterTogether guiding principles. Which one of our values resonates with you most personally and why? (Integrity, Accountable, Collaborative, Inclusive, Supportive)  

The one that speaks to me would be Inclusive. Due to me having autism and ADHD, I always knew that my opportunities would be limited. I knew when I came into my teaching role that some people would think that I wouldn’t be capable. During a field placement in college, my mentor teacher did not believe in me. However, since coming to New Story Schools, nobody has ever doubted my ability to perform at this job. We are inclusive not only to the diverse needs of students, but also to staff.  

What does a “day in the life” look like for your role?  

For most of the day, I am teaching and working on emotional regulation with students. I also collaborate with other staff members before and after school. And towards the end of the day, we have a debriefing with my team.  

Can you talk a little bit about your career trajectory and what led you to where you are now?  

I always knew I wanted to be an autism support teacher. I went to Millersville University for my undergraduate degree because they have such a great teaching program. Eventually, I went to a job fair while I was student teaching and I met our current Special Education Supervisor, Dr. John Black. After talking with him, I knew it was a perfect fit. In the future, I would love to either be a lead teacher or fill some sort of mentor role for the new teachers during their onboarding process. I love teaching and that’s all I want to do! 

What has been your proudest moment or accomplishment in your role? 

A few weeks ago, I was helping one of my students get on the bus. He turned back to me and said, “Miss Marina, I’m so glad that I came to New Story Schools. I thought it was a punishment, but it feels like a reward. I learned so much at school today! Thank you for being my teacher!” It was great to watch him come full circle. He had struggled a lot in the beginning, so seeing him where he is now is just the icing on the cake.  

What is something about you that not many people know?  

Most people here already know, but it usually surprises people when I tell them that I have autism, ADHD, and was a special education student myself.  

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