Improving quality of life for the differently abled Children & Adults



Julie has been married for 31 years and is a mom of 5 wonderful children and a Grandmother to 6 amazing grandchildren. Julie has been working with children for most of her married life in either educational settings, care giving and or through volunteer service.

Julie led a pre-school classroom while living in Las Vegas for 5 years. The age range was 3 – 5 years old. Julie also worked in the Higley School District in the special education preschool for 2 ½ years. Julie has been a Lead Teacher at LIFE since 2013. Julie has been trained in Handwriting Without Tears, Get Set For School, Social Thinking, Keys To Behavior, Out of Sync Child, Introduction to Assistive Technology for the Pediatric Population, along with the curriculum used here at LIFE: FUNdations, Saxon Math, & ABLLS.


Welcome to Kinder/First grade! My name is Nicole Rapp and I am beyond thrilled to be teaching and being a part of the LIFE family since 2012.

My Education and Professional Background: I graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies. A few years later I complete my Master’s degree in Special Educations, with an emphasis on Autism. Right after graduation I began working at Lauren’s Institute For Education.

My Educational Philosophy: It is my goal as teacher to inspire children to become life-long learners. I want to provide students with resources and information necessary to help them succeed in their future. My teaching philosophy is based on respecting differences, tapping into talents, and sharing my love for learning. I believe we all have something to contribute and I learn so much from the students each day. I use a multi-sensory theme based instruction in the classroom and believe in a consistent, positive, and respectful approach to making lasting learning!


Hello, my name is Bari Watnick! I am excited to be joining the academy team as the Lead Teacher for the enhanced ratio classroom at LIFE. I started working at LIFE 2 years ago, when I joined the BPS team. Though I love working in the BPS department, I missed teaching in the classroom. I graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Elementary Education K-6 and an Endorsement in Special Education K-12. Before joining the BPS department, I taught for the Scottsdale Unified School District and ASU Preparatory. While in Scottsdale, I ran the Social, Communication, and Academic Classroom (SCA). This classroom consisted of middle school aged individuals with High Functioning Autism. After 7 years of working in the SCA classroom, I decided I needed a change and became an Elementary Inclusion Specialist at ASU Preparatory in Mesa. I applied for what I thought was a summer job at LIFE and 2 years later here I am LOVING LIFE!

A little more about me! I currently live in Tempe with my husband, Matt of 2 years. In November of 2015, we welcomed our first child, Ryan Benjamin into the world! In my free time, I love spending time with my family, arts and crafts, and going to movies!


I grew up in Utah but have lived in Arizona for 21 years. I have four amazing children, two girls and two boys. I have been working in this field for nine years and feel very blessed to work with these exceptional children.

I spent 6 years working for the Gilbert Public School District in the SPICE I Program for children with Autism before coming to work at L.I.F.E in February of 2014. My training covers several areas and curriculums including; Above and Beyond Math, PCI Reading, Handwriting Without Tears, Edmark Reading, Reading Mastery, Wilson Reading System, and Saxon Math. I also have training in CPI Non-Crisis Intervention, PECS (picture exchange communication system), ABA strategies and Discrete Trial Training Programs, STAR Discrete Trial Training Program, Pivotal Response Teaching, Functional Routines, Social Thinking and Out of Sync Child. I have CPR/First Aid certifications and am very experienced with seizures and seizure protocol.


Hi! I’m Miss Julia. Helping kiddos grow and learn is an absolute passion of mine. I have my bachelor’s in secondary education that I received from Arizona State University in 2009. I then received my masters in curriculum and instruction: teaching and learning: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from Arizona State University in 2013.

I taught 8th grade language arts in the Gilbert School District. I have been doing habilitation and ABA services for six years. I worked for Lauren’s Institute for almost 2 years in the Behavior Programming Services department. I worked one on one with our client’s, was the assistant program manager on some cases and conducted our fidelity checklists. I then moved over to be a teacher in the academy and I have been doing that for a year and a half.

I enjoy reading, trying new food and visiting my family back east. I love the cold weather! I used to live on a ranch and had three horses. I have one dog named Holly. A few of my favorite things…Color: Mint and Pink; Season: Winter; Book: The Harry Potter Series; Food: Italian food; Hobby: Baking


My name is Sara Coombs. I was born and raised in Arizona. I am a mother of 4 wonderful children. I have been part of the LIFE family for 5 years. Since here at LIFE I have been fortunate enough to work in the Academy and learn under the guidance of some amazing mentors in both traditional curriculum based instruction classrooms and through application of ABA principals within a classroom setting.

Most recently I was trained by the (BPS) Behavioral Programming and Support department in the principals of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Starting in the fall semester of 2015 through the 2015/2016 school year I was personally trained, mentored and raised up with the intention of taking my own class in the fall of the 2016/2017 school year. I was able to demonstrate my skills through the successful passing of the behavioral programming and support fidelity checklist system and ran my own class last year. In June 2016, I passed the (RBT) registered behavioral technician program which is another program that will help support my abilities to accurately discuss, demonstrate and roll play proper competency in utilizing the principals of applied behavior analysis in a classroom setting. I look forward to expanding that knowledge and using it in my classroom in the fall.

With the support of the fall academy resource team and my support team I am confident I will be able to successfully uphold the mission and vision of L.I.F.E. and provide your child with a very robust and well-rounded learning experience. I believe you will see through my programmatic approach to teaching and my data collecting system the progress you are wanting for your child. I love being in the classroom and watching the children develop.

I am excited for the added curriculum we have this year and to watch your children grow academically. I look forward to getting to know each of them individually. I love LIFE and all it stands for.


My name is Sasha Houts and I am ecstatic to take on the facilitator role for the enhanced ratio classroom at Lauren’s Institute for Education! I am originally from Washington State, I have two dogs, and will be getting married in February of 2018. I have been a part of the L.I.F.E. family through the Behavior Programming and Support (BPS) department since 2015 as an ECM Program Manager and Lead ABA Therapist working in the clinical, classroom, and home settings.

In 2014 I graduated from Washington State University (Go Cougs!) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development and a certificate in Family Systems. After receiving my bachelors, I moved to Arizona to pursue a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University, which I obtained in May 2017. Within the next year I will be siting for the exam to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

I have always felt a passion to advocate for children in need. I have seven years of experience assisting foster youth and individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities. I began my love of teaching working with children with developmental disabilities as a habilitation provider. Through this experience, I discovered the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and became engulfed in the principles as they pertain to those with developmental disabilities and their application for everyday life. As an ABA therapist, I have gained extensive training and knowledge managing behavior and utilizing ABA principles to guide appropriate behavioral outcomes.

I am a strong believer in teaching to the whole child by showing each individual the love and respect they deserve. I am beyond blessed to be a part of this organization, and look forward to guiding your child’s journey. My philosophy is that education does not have an end, there is always something new to learn.


My name is Alyssa Rycroft and I am extremely excited to continue my journey here at LFE! I have been an employee at Lauren’s Institute For Education for a year in the Behavior Program Support department. I have held the position as a behavioral therapist utilizing the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) principles and an ECB where I assist the BCBA with programming and parent training. Prior to my employment here at LIFE, I was a Behavior Interventionist for a year and a half at Autism Spectrum Therapies in Tempe, Arizona. I have been working with children and young adults with disabilities since 2011 in a private home setting and in the Chandler School District as a substitute paraprofessional and in the elementary grade level as a paraprofessional in many different special education classrooms.

In terms of my education, I graduated from Central Arizona College with my Associates in Elementary Education in 2014 and Grand Canyon University with my Bachelors in Educational Studies in 2016. I am currently working on my Registered Behavior Technician certificate.

My own personal mission for my classroom at LIFE is to challenge and further my students’ academics, flexibility, independence and social aspects of their day. I believe that learning and growing should never stop for my a child or myself; especially at the classroom door. I want to provide an environment where every child is supported individually and with as much respect as they deserve. I look forward to learning and utilizing as much as I can to help my students continue to be their best selves they can be!

In my free time, I love to hike, kayak, four-wheel and camp! I am definitely an outdoorsy person! I currently live in Gilbert with my boyfriend, our five dogs and our rabbit named Jack.


 My name is Kate Manship and I am honored to be a part of your amazing student’s journey.  I began at L.I.F.E. in the behavioral support department as an ABA therapist and am thrilled to be transitioning into a lead teacher role.

I grew up in Western Michigan and moved to Indianapolis after completing my bachelor’s in psychology and non-profit management.  I was working as program director in an Alzheimer’s cottage when I met and married my husband of 10 years.  We have two beautiful children Myles (8) and Isla (6).  It was when my son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum that I obtained my master’s in special education.  I have been working with exceptional people in a variety of capacities for the last 10 years ranging from in home social work to teaching in a self-contained autism classroom.

My diverse vocational background has lead me to believe that to reach a child you need to embrace them holistically.  I meet children where they are in the moment to encourage a safe environment in which to grow.  I have learned from personal experience with my son, that many of our children learn through taking an active role in their education.  Hands on activities that involve the senses make for a more meaningful experience in the classroom.  Learning does not stay in the classroom however; even the littlest moments can be learning moments.  The absolute best part of teaching is how much I learn from my students.

When I’m not at L.I.F.E, I am with my family, my dog Bella, our two cats Cookie and Checkers, and Sam and Rinzler our Guinea pigs who will be making an appearance in the classroom shortly.

“There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child can do instead of what they cannot do”. Temple Grandin


My name is Brandon Miller and I am a teacher at Laurens’s Institute for Education. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University in 2015, where I also became a member of both the TSU Sigma National Honor Society, and the Golden Key International Honor Society. After high school I knew that I wanted to serve others—give back to the community, and acknowledge those who had helped me to get where I am at today—in some capacity. At the beginning of my career in education, I started working with students with exceptionalities, from 2010-2016 I began my career here at Lauren’s Institute. During my time at L.I.F.E, I developed a passion for the science of Applied Behavior Analysis—practicing it in both a one-on-one setting, as well as in the classroom. Prior to returning to L.I.F.E, I had the opportunity to teach both second grade and middle/high school English (special education).

I believe the higher purpose of education is to arm students with the skills necessary to analyze new situations and be proactive in preparing students to become critical thinkers. Education provides the opportunity for students to learn how to be independent and reach their full potential as human beings and as productive members of a society. As a teacher, providing a safe, comfortable classroom environment and maximizing opportunities for student learning, are the most important factors in governing student behavior. To accomplish this task, my classroom must be managed effectively and efficiently. A well-managed and organized classroom is essential to the delivery and effectiveness of instructional learning, allowing me to provide the best educational experience possible to each one of my students.


My name is Brittney Buck. I’m originally from Minnesota and I do not miss the slush and driving conditions Minnesota’s winter brings and love the heat Arizona provides!! I have a great husband and have been married for 8 years. I also have an amazing 7 year old daughter, Willow, and golden retriever, Amos, who share my love of the heat.  I have been a part of the LIFE family since August of 2015 in the Behavior Programming Services Department (BPS). Within the BPS I worked with kids one on one as a Lead Therapist, acted as a Program Manager, and was an ECB for some of our kids. I have worked in the classroom, clinic setting, and in home.

Prior to being at LIFE I was a Clinical Supervisor at Behavioral Dimensions Inc., I worked at BDI for 8 years working with kids in a one to one setting and in the classroom delivering ABA services. It was at this time I fell in love with ABA and the way it impacted the kids and families I worked with. Before Behavioral Dimensions I worked at a school for 2 years in a special needs classroom and learned that every child is unique and has amazing potential. I graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Bachelors in Social Work.

I have worked with kids my entire life and have a passion for teaching. I’ve learned many important lessons from the kids I have worked with. The most important lessons include you are never to old to learn, flexibility is essential in life, and having fun while learning is the best way to learn (you can never be too goofy


Hi! I am Saryn Haynie, and I am brand new to LIFE! I will be teaching the 3rd-6th grade class this Fall, and I am so excited. There is not another population of humans I would rather work with than the kiddos that attend this school. I have wanted to be a teacher my whole life, but just discovered my passion for Special Education a few years ago while volunteering in an orphanage in Ecuador. It has now been 4 years that I have had the privilege of working with different people of all ages, with a wide range of disabilities.

I graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Special Education in 2017. Though I am relatively new to the field, I am continually learning, growing and striving to become the best teacher I can be for these kiddos. I am a strong believer in being my students’ advocate, alongside with their parents, to love and push and encourage my students to accomplish the unexpected. I know that each and every child learns differently, and I recognize the importance of finding individual learning patterns in order to best meet the needs of each student. The abundance of love that I feel for these kiddos is the driving force behind all that I do. I am truly blessed to be a part of the LIFE family and I look forward to working with you and your child along their journey.

I am originally from Southern Utah, and just moved to Arizona at the beginning of the summer (just in time to melt in the heat). I love doing anything outdoors—water, hiking, camping, bike rides, the beach, etc. I am a very active person and I love fitness, but I also have an incredibly unforgiving sweet tooth. There is always room for dessert

© 2007-2010 Laurens Intitute for Education | All Rights Reserved

Designed by Sprout Sprout Strategies

Powered by WordPress