Learning Support Specialist

Clinician Profile, Tiffany Johnson, Learning Support Specialist

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Tiffany Johnson, Learning Support Specialist, Beijing

Tiffany Johnson, Learning Support Specialist, Beijing

Tiffany is an American Learning Support Specialist at LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing. She graduated from Widener University with dual certified in Elementary Education and Special Education in 2013. She has been teaching Pre-Kindergarten to 5th Grade Students for 6 years. She has 4 years of experience working with students with special needs, including students with severe disabilities and behavioral disorders. Tiffany has training in Applied Behavioral Analysis and is knowledgeable about autism spectrum disorders, as well as interventions, tools, assessments, and strategies to accommodate students with a range of abilities. She has experience modifying lessons to create ideal learning opportunities for each student to help them succeed. Tiffany speaks English.



How long have you been in China?

I have been in China for a little over 2 years.

Why did you choose to work at LIH Olivia’s Place?

Being licensed in Special Education in China is tough. The awareness and acceptance for students with disabilities is so low that you encounter students who you know need help not get it due to the stigma or lack of knowledge about it. When I found out about LIH Olivia’s place I knew I had to be a part of it. Finally, I thought, there is a place that is spreading the word, a place that is facilitating getting so many students the help, interventions, and tools they need to become successful. I was excited to hear about the upcoming programs and to be able to give input as someone who is on the front-lines in the classroom.

Why did you choose your field?

I knew I wanted to teach after I had one of the best fourth grade teachers. She told me I could do anything, be anything, and gave me hope when the surrounding environment was close to bleak and not so promising. I knew that I wanted to be able to do that for others, to give hope through the value of education. Showing students that being willing to learn about the world and themselves could take them so many places and is a wonderful gift. In regard to special education I fell into the field accidentally and those unique students took hold of my heart. I yearned to learn more about how to help those students be successful in any type of environment regardless of level of ability. I enjoy it and the opportunity it gives me to continue to learn and grow as a professional.

What are some of the most rewarding experiences you have had in your profession?

As a teacher I am lucky to have many extremely rewarding experiences. Every time I see a struggling student pass a test, or when I have a high achiever get accepted to a tough program, but I can recall one that will always stay with me.  I worked at an educational institution for students with severe behavioral and physical disabilities. I often took the students on trips in the community and the ratio was 2:1 or 1:1. I was assigned to two 20-year-old young men. They were the epitome of perseverance. They were both classified as dangerous and could severely hurt me if over stimulated or stressed. They never once showed aggression toward me so I asked to always be assigned to them for outings. One day I took them to the store to work through an “Activity of Daily Living goal,” they had to find items on a list. In one of the aisles one of the young men got very excited by a Disney character on a box; he began jumping, clapping, and yelling loudly, which were usually signs of behavior before he would become overstimulated and aggressive. Some of the patrons of the store looked worriedly our way and wanted to get help as my student was very tall and pretty stocky. I began jumping with him as I knew how much he enjoyed Disney characters and hoped to keep the store from calling others to the aisle, which would have negatively impacted him.  I told him that if he completed his goal properly I would get the item with the Disney character for him as a gift; he calmed down and hugged me and picked me up while hugging me. We finished his goal and walked to the counter. The cashier pulled me aside and told me that it was the most amazing thing she has seen. She said that before that point if she would have seen a person like my student she would have stared and walked away quickly but after seeing how I interacted with him and how he is just another person who likes what he likes, she now has an actual experience to refer to rather than an assumption. My students and I thanked her and gave her high fives. I took pride in know that he changed her perception; not someone telling her what she should think but rather getting the opportunity to see it firsthand. I think it is our job as educators to give our students a chance to prove themselves, think for themselves, and discover their own potential, teaching them to become their own mouthpiece while showing them the path so they can facilitate their own success.

What’s your favorite thing about living in China and working at LIH Olivia’s Place?

My favorite thing about working in China is the opportunity to expose more and more people to an African American educator as well as continue to open the minds of so many people who are not aware of the helpfulness and benefits of Special Education and intervention. I hope to contribute toward removing its stigma and getting more people help in an open and accepting environment. In the area I live in Beijing, I have seen no other African Americans. My students have never encountered someone like me nor have their parents. I have been able to educate them about my ethnicity and let them know that I am an educated individual who is here to provide a quality education for their children. It has been a challenge to overcome some of the misconceptions and racism but it pushes me to become better and shows me that what I am doing is very necessary.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?

In 5 years I hope to be finished with my master’s degree and maybe start a family. I hope to take my experiences through traveling in Asia and maybe elsewhere to the United States to begin exposing American students to the world around them which is also so needed.

Every Child Deserves a Champion

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Every Child deserves a Champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.

                                                                                              – Anonymous


Akshata Kamath, Learning Support Specialist, Shanghai

Akshata Kamath, Learning Support Specialist, Shanghai

Every child has the right to education and this right should not be taken away. It amazes me when kids with special needs master their skills, goals, and targets set for them through an Individualized Learning Program. The happiness on the faces of their parents when they are informed about their child’s success gives a true meaning for imparting knowledge and education in community.

Keeping this in mind, LIH Olivia’s Place Shanghai opened its door to special education in a new way by setting up a small program for kids with special needs this year. It’s a typical school environment with a passionate and realistic approach.

EI 1Every morning, students come with happy faces to meet their teachers and to begin an exciting day of learning. With their peers they enjoy half an hour of floor time by choosing activities set up for them by their facilitators. They then prepare for morning circle where they sing songs welcoming all. They independently set up their visual calendars and are ready to sing the songs that signal the start of the day – days of the week, counting numbers, and singing “What day is today, yesterday, and tomorrow.”  It’s rewarding to see the children help their friends and sometimes correct them. The children learn their routine through pictures and photos.

Next, they are ready to participate in guided reading with their teacher. After sitting and listening so well the children are ready for some exercise by playing games such as “Color, Color, Which Color do You Want?”

After some game time, the children are ready to work on their academics. The program follows 3 centers -


  1. EI 2Academic: This center is led by the facilitator. ILP goals are identified and are multi-disciplinary by nature. They consists of academic goals taken from US Common Core standards and goals set by ta child’s therapy team (ST, OT, and PT), keeping in mind the individual needs of each child.
  1. Independent: Many children with special needs find working independently a real challenge. To make them successful to live an independent life, this center encourages children to complete their task without help and guidance from the facilitator. We follow the TEACCH task system; students they pull out a bin of work planned for them, complete the activities, and place them into the finished bin.
  1. EI 3Sensory: Many of our children have sensory needs. Some benefit from a sensory activity before they begin work to help them focus and some need them after they complete work to help them relax. This center is designed with the individual needs of each student in mind. The sensory center is well-integrated with Academics, so children work on different kinds of hands on activities.

Each of the three centers runs for approximately fifteen minutes. Centers take place twice a day, one for language arts and the other for mathematics.

Afternoons are directed towards leisure activities. The children participate in Arts and Crafts, Music, Physical Education, and Cooking.  Some of the children have specialist therapies which have been built into their school day at this time.

By 3.00pm our students are exhausted after a long day of learning and are ready to go home. We sing the goodbye song and eagerly await the next exciting day.