School Age Administration Staff

Jason Petko, Director of Education

 

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Jason Petko is a Western New York native and currently resides in the city of Buffalo.


The passion Mr. Petko has for educating children is deeply rooted from a personal childhood experience when a teacher inspired him to be the best person possible. He has carried this motivation throughout his career as a teacher and school principal. Mr. Petko believes in the power of teachers who possess the gift to improve learning, provide inspiration and make positive differences in the lives of students.


Mr. Petko prides himself on his ability to motivate educators to enhance their skills and abilities so they can better serve students. This skill has been demonstrated during his many years as a school principal. Mr. Petko embraces the daily challenges of educating students by promoting high teaching standards, accountability and authentic school experiences.


Mr. Petko earned a Bachelor's degree in special education and a Master's of Educational Leadership from Canisius College. Outside of school, he enjoys reading military history memoirs, traveling, and spending time with his family.


Julie Davis, Co-Principal

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As Co-Principal at the Cantalician Center for several years, Julie Davis believes strongly in the agency's mission, vision and values. "As a school we strive to empower our students and promote their independence through meaningful opportunities including academic, social and community experiences," said Mrs. Davis.

Mrs. Davis earned her Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from Buffalo State College, a Masters Degree of Special Education from Daemen College, and a second Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Canisius College. Prior to joining Cantalician Center, Mrs. Davis was the Director of Student Services at Pinnacle Charter School, as well as the Program Coordinator and AIS Math Teacher. She was a classroom teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools and Saints Peter and Paul School in Williamsville.

Outside of school, Mrs. Davis is a proud wife to Eric and mother to Kylie, Lexie and Jace. They enjoy traveling, playing sports and spending time with one another.

Mark Blesy, Co-Principal

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Mark Blesy is a Western New York native and currently resides in Orchard Park, New York.

Mr. Blesy has worked in education for more than 18 years and has a strong commitment to student achievement. Mr. Blesy believes that all individuals are life-long learners and have the potential to be successful academically and socially. Mr. Blesy enjoys working with educators, students, and their families to enhance the learning environment.

Mr. Blesy earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Fredonia State College, a Master's of Education in School Counseling from St. Bonaventure University, and a Certificate of Educational Leadership from Buffalo State College. Outside of school, he enjoys outdoor activities, exercise, and spending time with his family.

 

Vito Gigante, MS, OTR/L, RYT 200, Head of Occupational Therapy

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Vito Gigante has his Master's degree from D'Youville College and has been working as a pediatric occupational therapist for more than 13-years in both the Cantalician Center for Learning based and community based settings. His approach has always had a child centered focus with the goal of improving their function across all aspects of life. Mr. Gigantes' therapy delivery is often created through a sensory motor lens and aims to specifically increase independence and self-regulation. He has been personally practicing and accumulating knowledge about yoga, the benefits related to yoga and the integration of yoga into therapy en route to becoming a registered yoga instructor in 2016. In an effort to improve function, a child must first understand how they connect to their environment and how they can control the way that they interact within their environment. It is this principle that continues to drive Mr. Gigantes' desire to implement best practice therapy techniques and develop innovative ways to meet the diverse needs of each student in the school.

Mr. Gigante spends his free time with his two wonderful daughters, ages 6 and 4, and his wonderful wife Sarah while actively enjoying all that Buffalo, and the world have to offer. Living mindfully is an important part of their everyday goal.

Judith Maciolek, P.T., M.S., Head of Physical Therapy

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Judith Maciolek has been employed by the Cantalician Center for Learning for over 25 years, currently serving as the Head of the Physical Therapy Department. She has also practiced as a physical therapist at the agency's former group homes and co-located Day Treatment program. Ms. Maciolek has experience in the Nursing Home, Home Care and Residential Habilitation arenas. She received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Physical Therapy from Daemen College and has advanced training in orthotics and in the pediatric NDT approach to patient care. Ms. Maciolek is a past recipient of Cantalician Center's Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the SABAH Volunteer of the Year Award.

Ms. Maciolek initiated the Cantalician Center's participation in the SABAH program, which has continued for 25 years. She believes in the client-centered approach to care, striving to enhance each child's independence and mobility to ensure maximal function.

Suzanne Ruska, M.S.CCC-SLP, Head of Speech/Language Therapy

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Suzanne Ruska is a licensed speech language pathologist and the Speech Department Head of the Cantalician Center for Learning. Mrs. Ruska joined the agency in 2003 and oversees the speech-language pathology services for the center based Pre-School and School-Age programs. She is devoted to developing functional communication skills for all of our students. Mrs. Ruska focuses her efforts on exploring evidence-based practices across all age ranges, servicing a range of communication disorders while developing communication across the school, home, community and vocational environments. She believes "communication is the human connection" and her department strives to develop it to its highest level via; verbal speech, augmentative or alternate communication or through assistive technology. Mrs. Ruska earned a Bachelor's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Nazareth College of Rochester. She received her Master's Degree in Communication Disorders from Buffalo State College. Mrs. Ruska is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the New York State Speech-Language Hearing Association. She is a member of the Supervision and Administration Special Interest Group and has been a recipient of the ACE Award from ASHA.

John Lloyd, IEP Coordinator

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John Lloyd comes to the Cantalician Center after serving as the elementary CSE Chairperson for Lockport Schools for the past several years.

Mr. Lloyd joined the teaching profession in 1999 following a career in the construction industry. He earned his Masters Degree in Exceptional Education from Buffalo State College and is permanently certified in both Special and General Education. Mr. Lloyd is motivated by the school administration team mantra that every young person has someplace important to go and important things to accomplish. The role of the professional educator is to help them get where they need to go and accomplish what they were sent here to do.  

 

 

Tiffany Czechowski, Behavior Coordinator

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Tiffany Czechowski is a Western NY native and brings more than 10 years experience of providing behavior support to people of all ages to Cantalician Center.  She received a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Wells College and a Master's Degree in Psychology from Medaille College. 

Ms. Czechowski works to uphold the agency's core value of Human Dignity by treating all people as individuals, encouraging self-advocacy, and helping to showcase each student's strengths and abilities.  Her ultimate goal is to promote independence and to ensure fulfilling and meaningful lives for each student, as they learn and grow with Cantalician Center.

In her spare time, Ms. Czechowski enjoys traveling, animals, and spending time outside in the sun!

 

Nicole Weaver, Behavior Coordinator

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Nicole Weaver comes to Cantalician with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the University at Buffalo, and a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Medaille College.  Mrs. Weaver has worked as a mental health educator, therapist, and advocate, and has many years of experience providing behavior support to early childhood age students.

Mrs. Weaver strives to help others to become successful by providing training and encouragement to those around her.  She has the heart of a true advocate and is always willing to do whatever is needed by the students and families with which she is working.

In Mrs. Weaver's spare time she is an assistant coach to a high school cheerleading team. Other interests include crafting, painting, spending time with her family, and traveling.

 

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