Life Education Occupational Studies

The LEOS program is now accepting applications!

To apply:

1) Please download and complete all three forms:

2) Submit the completed forms to: [email protected]

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Take the first step on your journey as a Nittany Lion!

The LEOS Program

The Life Education Occupational Studies (LEOS) program offered at the Penn State Lehigh Valley campus supports students who have intellectual disabilities and developmental delays while they gain meaningful collegiate experiences. The LEOS program combines individualized coaching sessions, group seminars, and audited academic courses to facilitate self-advocacy and independence for students. As a sister program to University Park’s Worklink and Penn State Harrisburg’s Career Studies programs, LEOS offers education and training for students to gain meaningful employment and independent living skills, while accessing classes and clubs on the Penn State Lehigh Valley campus.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Life Education Occupational Studies (LEOS) program is to provide enriching and inclusive post-secondary education and career exploration experiences that lead to independence and competitive employment. Our program is committed to provide young adults with disabilities a comprehensive and thorough post-secondary experience. The goal of our program is for students to have a collegiate experience, gain connection to community, and develop skills for employment. We plan to do this through selected classes that students will audit on the Penn State Lehigh Valley campus. Students will also have the opportunity to gain vocational and independent living skills, with guidance from staff and a Penn State peer mentor. We are committed to building a strong TEAM, because Together Everyone Achieves More.

Program Overview

The program follows Penn State’s official academic calendar of 15 weeks of classes per semester. Students will audit one to two courses and participate in seminar classes on campus for six hours per week.

Students will audit one or more Penn State academic courses with the option of having in-class support from a peer mentor. Peer mentors are also available to provide support for academic activities, including studying and completion of projects.

Students will participate in curriculum focusing on life skills, social skills, vocational skills, and community outreach

Students participate in seminars that are offered on campus to all students.

Students will have the option to participate in social activities and student clubs that are offered on campus.

Peer mentor support will be provided to students to support their academic success.

This inclusive post-secondary education program benefits the Penn State Lehigh Valley community by enhancing diversity and creating opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to interact with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

This inclusive post-secondary education benefits the greater community by expanding the vision and possibilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

This inclusive post-secondary education program benefits employers by making connections to potential employees who will have experience and an understanding of the employer’s needs and values.

Meet the faculty

Nicole Moschberger: Director of the LEOS program

Nicole is an Education Program Specialist with 20 years of experience in the classroom. She graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts in English, participated in the National Writing Project Fellowship from Penn State University, and went on the receive her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Nicole is the director of the Lehigh Valley Writing Project, which provides professional training for teachers in the Lehigh Valley to better facilitate reading and writing instruction in the classroom. She also contributes to the Penn State Lehigh Valley community in her capacity as a College, Career, and Community Writers Program coach and oversees multiple facets of the Continuing Education department for the university.

Jessica Cole: Program Coordinator

Jessica is a graduate of the University of Scranton with a B.S. in Elementary Education, and a graduate of DeSales University with a M.Ed. in Special Education. Jess is also a graduate of Penn State University with an add-on graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. She has taught fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. She has developed and implemented a social skills group for preschool children with autism. She has experience working as both a general education teacher and a special education teacher. For two years, Jess was the Behavior Analyst, K-12, for the Easton Area School District. During this time, she found that her true place is in the classroom. Currently, Jess is teaching 6th-8th grade special education in a behavior support classroom at Easton Area Middle School. Jess is working as a liaison between Penn State University and local school districts, as well as outside agencies such as the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).

Jamie Merida: Program Instructor

Jamie graduated from Lehigh University with a Master of Education degree in Special Education and Elementary Education and is certified to teach English and History for grades 4-8. She has worked for the Autistic Support Program of the Colonial Intermediate Unit 20, as well as an English and Social Studies teacher in the Wilson Area School District. Jamie has also been fortunate to gain experience in co-teaching settings as well as a long-term substitute experiences in the Learning Support Program at Wilson Area School District and in the Life Skills Program at Bethlehem Area School District.

Get Involved

LEOS provides peer mentor support for students who are enrolled in the program. A peer mentor is responsible for providing academic and social supports for students as they begin their academic courses, employment opportunities, and campus activities. They help students connect with peers and Penn State faculty/staff, and make a significant impact by providing encouragement and facilitating positive experiences on campus.

Are you interested in becoming a peer mentor?
Contact Nicole Moschberger at [email protected].