Stacy Jantzi, a light for local autistic students
Where there is a will … there is a way.
Stacy Jantzi, the 2017 Yuma County Citizen of the Year, has found that way for the 1 in 66 children in the county who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Jantzi, who is the program director for the Menta Academy Yuma and a co-founder of the Yuma Autism Community Coalition, has been searching for that way for many years, said Kathy Burwell, who nominated Jantzi for the annual honor and provided the statistic.
“After her family saw first-hand the impacts of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Stacy felt led to make a positive impact upon all families with children diagnosed with special needs,” Burwell wrote in her nomination letter.
“With her unbelievable optimistic outlook, Stacy began researching the diagnosis. Through her research, she learned that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was one of the most effective means for teaching new skills to diagnosed children,” Burwell continued.
Jantzi also founded Ausomeism: Autism Redefined in 2014 and “began to work to create optimism and hope for families,” Burwell wrote. “Her goal was to harness the grief of diagnosis and support the family or primary caregiver to implement proven strategies, giving individuals diagnosed with Autism their greatest opportunity for success.”
Jantzi will soon complete a doctoral degree as a board certified behavior analyst doctor, one of a handful nationwide, said Dr. Elizabeth Conran, CEO and President of the Menta Group, in her nomination letter.
Conran and Jantzi met several years ago, when a concerned group of Yuma parents were searching for services for their children with autism.
The Menta Academy Yuma opened at Pecan Grove Elementary School last fall with 11 students and continues to grow each month, Burwell wrote. The Menta Academy Yuma uses the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) education model framework.
In an article about The Menta Group from July, Jantzi said MAY’s goal is about working collaboratively with parents and school districts.
“This is absolutely without a doubt how can I serve you so we can serve these students,” she said at the time.
“Stacy firmly believes that those diagnosed with disabilities have super powers... they laugh when no one else does, hug you tighter than you have ever been hugged before, play happily, and love you unconditionally with every part of their heart and soul,” Burwell wrote. “Stacy shares that unconditional love for children and the Yuma community.”
Conran noted that those with the doctoral degree that Jantzi will soon complete are “heavily recruited across the country.”
A military family, the Jantzis, however, plan to retire here after Stacy’s husband completes his final year of service away from Yuma, because the family believes that “Stacy has found her calling,” Conran wrote.
“They believe that together they can make a difference for the children and families in Yuma,” she said in her letter.
“Stacy is a role model for those around her, particularly for those whose lives she touches each day” Burwell wrote. “She is one of the most optimistic individuals that I personally have ever met. She recognizes the successes of each challenge, no matter the size.
“She is a dedicated, compassionate leader who continues to impact the Yuma community one life at a time.”
“AFTER HER FAMILY SAW FIRST-HAND the impacts of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Stacy felt led to make a positive impact upon all families with children diagnosed with special needs,” states the nomination letter for Stacy Jantzi, who is the 2017 Yuma...