Although she's just beginning her first year as a teacher, Krista Groff knows her new school well.
After all, this is the third time she's been at Solanco's Providence Elementary School.
Her first time was as a student. The second came years later when she came back as an aide in an autistic support classroom run by the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit.
That's where she found her calling.
"I knew I wanted to do this," she said of her early experience in classrooms for autistic children.
After earning an associate's degree from HACC, she went on to acquire a bachelor's degree in regular and special education for elementary students.
Now she's working for Solanco in the autistic support teacher in Providence Elementary.
"I went to the Lancaster [City] School District where I worked as an aide for six years. Last year, I was a long-term substitute there," she said.
Solanco's former special education director, Carol Clancy, had been Groff's supervisor in Lancaster.
"She hired me twice," Groff said. Her current supervisor, Chris Keeler, also supervised Groff in Lancaster.
Working with autistic students is a little different than teaching in a regular elementary classroom.
There are no lesson plans for the entire class. Instead, each student has an individual educational plan. "It's a little more basic, teaching skills others may already know, and helping students learn how to do things on their own," Groff said. "Sometimes it's harder to find an area that you can tap into with each student. But in the end, they all love to be here and to learn."
Because her students require more individual attention, the class size is much smaller. They also come from various grade levels.
Two are in kindergarten, two in first grade, two in second grade, and one in fifth grade.
Because some of the students are severely disabled, Groff has aides working with her in the classroom. Two of the students also have personal care assistants.
Some of her students will come to her classroom for half of the school day. The rest will spend their entire day with Groff.
When she's not teaching, Groff likes to spend time with her husband, their two children and their cat. She also enjoys cooking and baking.