Kelsey Tobey First-Ever to Complete Site-Based Trainer Certification in Classroom Pivotal Response Training

Posted on 04/08/2021


Francis Howell School District’s (FHSD) Kelsey Tobey, K-12 behavior analyst, is the first person in the world to have successfully completed the Site-Based Trainer Certification in Classroom Pivotal Response Training (CPRT).

This rigorous training comes from the internationally recognized University of California-Davis MIND Institute and helps schools achieve a high level of treatment for students with significant autism and related disabilities.

“Like all students, our students with autism deserve for us to know them as people first – what motivates them, inspires them, and brings them joy,” said Mrs. Tobey. “When we incorporate our students’ interests into our instruction, we can foster special connections and incorporate learning into natural opportunities.”

Mrs. Toby provided this powerful, yet simple example of how CPRT can be used in the classroom, “When a teacher was targeting early writing skills and letter identification with a student who loved Disney characters. They created letter cards, pairing the targeted letter with a Disney character with that beginning letter. As the student completed each letter target and then wrote the letter, the teacher shared in singing a song related to that Disney character with the student.”

“After seeing the undeniable impact of the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) in our early childhood programs and completing my thesis on CPRT, it was evident our students and teachers deserved for us to pursue this research-based approach at the elementary level,” she continued.

After receiving her own certification in 2019, Kelsey began pursuing trainer status, so she could train others within the District. To do so, Mrs. Tobey was required to demonstrate research reliability standard in coding for effective CPRT practices, complete a self-study of coaching modules and demonstrate coaching feedback fidelity of the implementation for trainees under her supervision.

To date, she has supported seven staff persons in successfully completing certification while under the direction of Dr. Sarah Dufek with the MIND Institute, and is in the process of completing the certification process with eight staff in her new role as a trainer.

“Each time a staff member passes certification, sends a picture of a successful lesson, or shares the positive impact this has had on a student, I am reminded how lucky I am to work with so many educators who go above and beyond to do what is best for kids,” Mrs. Tobey said.

She has committed to the daunting task of certifying each essential skills teacher within FHSD in CPRT while developing a CPRT team in all elementary schools within a three-year period.

Mrs. Tobey has also completed the certification process for the Early Start Denver Model used in the Francis Howell School District Early Childhood Program (also affiliated with the MIND Institute).

“Her commitment to seek out this certification will allow for a more seamless and treatment transition between the programs,” said Randy Sanders, FHSD program coordinator.

“CPRT requires the teacher or therapist to incorporate principles of Applied Behavior Analysis into each lesson, emphasizing student motivation, active engagement, choice-making, and varied materials,” Mrs. Tobey said. “When these components are used with fidelity and high levels of student motivation are achieved, our students are given the opportunity to acquire and generalize targeted skills in the areas of communication, social-play, motor, and cognition.”

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