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Potential Made Possible

4710 Timber Trail Drive
Middletown, Ohio 45044

Meet Melissa Hayes, Director of the Autism Learning Center

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is the Director of the Autism Learning Center. She has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from00070 Mount Vernon Nazarene University, an Intervention Specialist License, and a Master's in Special Education from Xavier University.  Melissa has happily been teaching at Abilities First for 8 years, and has been teaching and caring for children with disabilities for a total of 14 years. 


Jessica Haas - Grades 1 and 2 Lead Teacher, Dani Solem-Kindergarten Lead Teacher

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. earned a Bachelors Degree of Arts, in Elementary and Special Education (Learning and Behavior Disorders) at Morehead State University.  She has always dreamed of becoming a teacher and then discovered a passion for educating those with disabilities while attending college. Jessica strives to give every child the opportunity to reach his/her greatest potential and will do everything in her power to achieve this goal. She feels great accomplishment when she works with the children and sees their progression with tasks they have been struggling with. Especially, when they are able to understand and overcome the obstacle. This allows her love for the job to continue to grow and wants to specialize with children who have Autism and other disabilities.00016



This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is a graduate of Miami University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Children in Families. During high school and college, Dani worked in a nursery with a child with Autism, which sparked her interest in working with Autistic children. Also, growing up with a nephew that has Autism helped inspire her to work as a teacher in the Autism Learning Center and do her best to give the children the opportunity to flourish and reach their maximum potential. 00080

Paula Falcone and Kristel Krieger- Preschool Lead Teachers

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. While working as a Substitute Teacher in Special Education for three years, she discovered her passion in working with children who have Autism, and other disabilities. Once, she moved back to Ohio with her husband and two children, Paula became an Assistant Preschool Teacher in the ALC program. 

She decided that she wants to dedicate more of her time to get involved in the classroom and00065 help children reach their full potential and meet their education goals, so Paula became a preschool teacher.



This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is originally from Wisconsin, but has lived in Ohio for about 10 years. Kristel and her husband, Dan, have been married for 14 years and they have four daughters together; ages 13, 12, 10 and 8. She has over 20 years of experience in childcare; in childcare centers and her own in-home childcare for 10 years. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from The University of Cincinnati and became interested in special education when she was a nanny for a young child with Angelman’s Syndrome. Kristel is a firm believer in early intervention and assisting children in reaching their full potential. “Every child has a 00002different learning style and pace. Each child is unique, not only capable of learning but also capable of succeeding.”


Amber Cales - Classroom Assistant, Jessy Chase-Assistant Teacher and Mackenzie Newman-Classroom Assistant

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. joined Abilities First as a classroom assistant at the beginning of February 2017. Amber and her 00081husband have 3 boys, with one of them receiving care and therapy services at Abilities First.  She is excited and honored to have the opportunity to use her personal experiences to work with other children and support the families here at Abilities First.                                          



Autism Learning Center Assistant Teacher Jessy Chase, graduated from Miami University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and then went on to obtain her Master of Education in Special Education from Miami University in 2010, with a focus on Autistic Spectrum Disorders. She currently holds a license as an early intervention specialist. She is passionate about helping kids reach their fullest potential, and believes every child deserves a chance to succeed. She truly believes that her kids teach her just as much, if not more, than she could ever teach them, and that there is such a profound lesson to be learned when observing and interacting with a child in their natural environment.00001
"I feel so blessed to be joining the team at Abilities First," she said. Her goal is to create that nurturing environment that will enable my kids to flourish and thrive and to hone their individual gifts and abilities. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, drinking way too much coffee, anything outdoorsy, and doing life with the people she loves.





 Mackenzie began working in the Autism Learning Center at the end of October as a Classroom Assistant..  She has 2 nephews and 1 niece and loves being around children.  Mackenzie is new to working around children with Autism but is very happy that she has been given this opportunity.  She feels that her experience being around children has helped her better connect to the children she works with.00055



Abilities First Development Department offers a number of ways you can support local children and adults with disabilities.

Please contact Development Department at 513-423-9496 if you have any questions.
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About Us

From birth through life, Abilities First of Middletown and Franklin, Ohio provides a broad array of individual and group programs for children and adults with disabilities.  

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Services for Children

Potential is Made Possible through our coordinated services - Autism Learning Center, Free Therapy Screenings, Pediatric Therapies, and Integrated Early Childhood Learning.

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Get Involved

We need YOU to help support local children and adults with disabilities. Donate to our mission, volunteer at one of our locations or special events, advocate for people with disabilities.