By Michelle L. Matthews
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Jennifer Hoheisel, a professor of philosophy at Camden County College, has been coordinating the Autism Awareness Events held at the school for the past 5 years. She has given 10 lectures to 1,000 people. Her lectures focus on “helping teachers understand behaviors of autistic people versus bad behaviors,” building on that understanding to help “teachers develop empathy and see the challenges and strengths” of an autistic person, and “educational strategies for the entire class; teachers and autistic and non-autistic students.”
A parent of a child who has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Hoheisel is very active in the autistic community. Not only does she coordinate the CCC events, but she serves on the board of Parents of Autistic Children Together (PACT), which is a support group for parents with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Their goal is to serve as an information and resource center for families coping with ASD. She has proudly served on the PACT board for “8 or 9 years.”
Hoheisel and her family moved to New Jersey from Ohio several years ago when her son was diagnosed ASD. The move, she states, was “born from the fact that there wasn’t enough out there.” The decision to move was prompted by her son’s diagnosis and the need to have him receive proper care. Ohio had nothing to offer as far as ASD care, while New Jersey and California were the only states with facilities that were capable of such care. With New Jersey being closer to family in Ohio than California, the family headed for the Delaware Valley.
Hoheisel said being involved in the autism community “has shaped the way I teach,” which has been made apparent with her receiving the 2010 Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. She has been a teacher for 20 years and has been a full-time professor at CCC since 2001. She once served on the Oaklyn School Board and as an advisor to CCC’s Phi Theta Kappa. She is the coordinator of the Liberal Arts Program and the director of the Honors Program at CCC. Hoheisel holds a bachelor of arts degree in classics from the College of William and Mary, a master of arts degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College and a master of arts degree in philosophy from Georgetown University.
Dr. John Pesda, a professor of history and political science at CCC, is also the coordinator of the school’s Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility, which is hosting the current autism lecture series. Pesda states, “Professor Hoheisel has made and continues to make major contributions to autism awareness at Camden County College. Her knowledge, awareness of resources, and marvelous ability to present material is the primary reason for the success of the program. She is a major asset to the college and to the autism community.”