In 2009, Ilana Gerschlowitz walked into a university lecture that Jenna was attending and left indelible footprints. As a Psychology Honours student, she had read no more than a paragraph about autism, and what Ilana said turned that paragraph on its head. Over the next two years Jenna completed her Masters in Music Therapy, but her heart already belonged to ABA and the families she worked with. Jenna then completed her supervisor training through CARD USA and began studying through Florida Institute of Technology with one of the top trainers of the Institute for Behavioural Training as her practicum supervisor. At the end of 2015 she became the first Board Certified Behaviour Analyst in South Africa. Jenna accepted a position on the Behavioural Intervention Certification Council’s board of directors, and in 2018 was named Clinical Director of The Star Academy.
Answering Her Calling
Jenna White is someone who has dedicated her life to the service of others, having found her true life’s calling in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. With a focus on psychology, her extensive qualifications include BA child and family psychology, BA Hons psychology and MMus Music Therapy.
“Over the years, I have watched children move from strength to strength and I have been part of families witnessing their children achieving things that they thought were out of reach” Jenna says. “Words are never sufficient to describe the most poignant experiences in our lives, but I am grateful every day for the little miracles that are weaved into the fabric of my life.”
Experience at The Star Academy
Jenna has worked at The Star Academy since its inception in 2009 and is currently in the role of case supervisor and clinical director.
“What makes The Star Academy so amazing is the outstanding leadership and guidance, the individualised and constant attention to each case, the camaraderie amongst therapists, and above all the wonderful and unique children with whom I have the privilege to work,” says Jenna. Through experience, Jenna has learned that the diagnosis of autism pales in comparison to the achievements that can be made through a focus on and development of the abilities of each child. “Every child I have worked with at The Star Academy has taught me something I could not have learned elsewhere. With understanding, dedication and perseverance, the obstacles presented by autism can be overcome.”
Jenna also supervises The Star Academy staff in receiving BCAT (Board Certified Autism Technician) certification completed under the auspices of BICC (Behavioral Intervention Certification Council in America), accrediting her staff as having achieved mastery of the knowledge of applied behaviour analysis required to work effectively with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Additionally, Jenna has been serving on the BICC board of directors, a role wherein she assists in advancing the organisation’s mission to administer its certification programme in order to regulate the standard of expertise of professionals working with individuals with ASD and to ensure consumer safety.
“More specifically, my role is to help BICC understand the needs of the professionals and of the autism community in Africa,” says Jenna. This includes identifying circumstances that may be unique to Africa which the BICC board can take into consideration in developing additional certifications, administering the current exam, etc. Furthermore, Jenna is responsible for providing feedback on the different components involved in BICC’s services, from the website to the exam.