We are thrilled to announce that Matt Kuzdral, the Ho-Ho-Kus school Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), has been named the Region 1 Related Services Provider of the Year by ASAH. (This is the umbrella association for schools and agencies serving students with special needs.)

Matt Kuzdral, Ho-Ho-Kus school Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Matt Kuzdral, Ho-Ho-Kus school Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

He was competing with other professionals across North Jersey and now goes onto vie for a state title later this year!

We are not surprised by Kuzdral’s win. He is an incredibly strong advocate for our students. For students with special needs, the road to independence is often blocked by challenging and sometimes severe maladaptive behaviors. These behaviors may be their only mode of communication, making it extremely difficult for them to advocate for themselves in a positive manner. He offers compassion and kindness to break down barriers to communication, leading to more positive behaviors.

Kuzdral feels a strong connection to the students because of their struggles. As a BCBA, he helps students further their independence; supports them through their most challenging behaviors; and uplifts them to feel valued and secure.

Kuzdral joined ECLC seven years ago, becoming the school’s first BCBA. He has worked to develop relationships with staff and students that allow him to be an effective presence during the most challenging behavioral situations. Additionally, he has championed the implementation of the UKERU approach to crisis de-escalation. UKERU is a trauma-informed approach that serves as an alternative to physical restraints. The use of this approach has served to keep staff and students safe during the most challenging and potentially dangerous episodes of dysregulation.

In his role as coordinator of one-to-one paraprofessionals, he provides ongoing training and in-service professional development that emphasizes the importance of a rapport between staff and students. He also provides strategies and information on meeting students’ behavioral needs.

In addition to his work as a BCBA, Kuzdral serves as the bus coordinator. He is ready with a friendly greeting each morning, as students enter school. He addresses any behaviors that may have occurred on the bus to ensure that students are calm and regulated as they transition from their buses to school. Kuzdral leads a bus driver workshop to educate drivers and aides to better understand student needs and provide strategies to make the bus ride as safe as possible.

Outside of his professional duties, last year, he collaborated with the local police department to help raise funds for the mother of a student battling cancer, who subsequently passed away. As part a “Movember” no-shaving campaign, they raised more than $36,000. Throughout the year, he is an active part of special events and school spirit days. Whether he is dressing up as a mad scientist for the science fair or disguised as Thing #1 on Read Across America Day, his enthusiasm is thoroughly contagious.

Building on a trauma-informed approach, Kuzdral’s vision for ECLC is one that provides an engaging, nurturing, and welcoming environment that meets the behavioral and emotional needs of all students. He believes that building students’ independence by focusing on real-world life skills is essential for their success. He stays current on best practices by avidly reading relevant journal articles that highlight advances and new techniques in the fieldl. He also attends workshops and Webinars to network with other professionals, share ideas and to advance his knowledge.

By giving a voice to the message behind behaviors, he empowers students to find positive avenues that can lead to increased independence as they begin to advocate for themselves.