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Spectrum Charter School

Spectrum Charter School, Inc.
4369 Northern Pike
Monroeville,PA 15146
Phone: 412.374.8130
Fax: 412.374 9629


Celebrating 15 Years of Education & Community Service


To provide school-to-work transition instruction in the classroom, on-site business, and community-based, work sites for students aged 13-21. The program is structured to meet the needs of students who do not learn well in typical classroom settings due to unique cognitive, communication, and sensory challenges, including students with autism spectrum disorders.

“Spectrum sees the uniqueness and strengths in all their students. They tap into that, and watch the children grow in self-confidence and become successful individuals.”

“I tell everyone I come in contact with how amazing it has been for my son.  Since coming to this school, my son has done a total 360.”

“Commended for Its community involvement and integration of technology.”
–PA Bureau of Special Education


  • High teacher-to-student ratio.
  • Curriculum
    • compiled of traditional (i.e., science, math), independent living, and transitional academics
    • includes on-line general and college prep courses
    • meets the students’ strengths, interests, and needs
    • aligned with the PA Academic Standards
  • Established community organization and corporation relationships
  • All students are provided vocational exploration, assessment, and training opportunities
  • Working, volunteering,and learning in the community are an integral part of our mission.
  • Spectrum students are a reliable employment pool
  • Provides community-based learning opportunities where students can refine community living, social, and work skills (banks, stores, restaurants…)

Please consider making a tax-deductable donation to Spectrum Charter School, Inc. Your financial efforts will help provide student education and community experiences. Your donation will also help students grow to be proud, productive citizens.

Thank you in advance!

Please make checks payable to:

Spectrum Charter School, Inc.
4369 Northern Pike
Monroeville, PA 15146

For more information, please call 412.374.8130.



Post-Graduate Stats*

2009 — 2013 Year Ending Graduates

Total Graduates: 16

Current Placement:

39% — Workshop

27.8% — Competitive Employment

11.1% — College/Post Secondary Training

11.1% — Active in Job Placement Services

5.5% — Volunteering

5.5% — Independent Job Search

*Courtesy of Michelle Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Spectrum Charter School

Its Origins

15 Years and Counting

The nation’s first public school to provide equal measures of classroom education and vocational training for those with autism – from middle school to graduation – is celebrating its 15th Anniversary.

On Friday, April 25 in Gateway Hall on Northern Pike in Monroeville, nine Spectrum Charter School graduates received their diplomas and move into the nation’s work force and/or higher education.

Located at 4571 Northern Pike, Spectrum Charter School was founded in 2000. Its chartered capacity is 32 students age 12-21, with at least that many more on its waiting list.

According to Dan Torisky, president of the Autism Society of Pittsburgh, “Spectrum is a shining example of excellence in appropriate educational and vocational programming for a significant portion of those with autism.”

According to Torisky, “The inspiration for Spectrum Charter School was Constance Van Dine Torisky, whose professional excellence and vision for those with autism was always firmly based in reality. Two ‘visions’ in particular stand out: first, that vocational assessment and training must be a key component in special education at the earliest practical age, and second, that continuing education, including vocational follow-up, should be available as appropriate after graduation and into adult age.

“Spectrum Charter School embodies the first of her visions. The Autism Society of Pittsburgh provided the property, the proposal and sold the concept to the Gateway School District and the PA Department of Education, with the help of Myron Cope and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Director, Dr. Donna Durno. Significant cash infusions from Paula Teacher, individual Spectrum board members like Karen Lukasena, and the Autism Society did the rest.

“And indeed, individual education plans (IEPs) today do include vocational assessment and skill development programming as students reach middle school age.

“Few public or private schools, however, replicate that of Spectrum Charter School, whose waiting list currently meets and/or exceeds its charter capacity. “Connie’s second vision is yet to be realized, although moves in that direction have been undertaken by the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Time constraints of OVR regulations however do not accommodate the ongoing need of many on the spectrum for monitoring and continuing education and training well beyond school age.

“Yet great opportunity exists in the employment of special education teachers during summer months to follow up on recent graduates as they begin adult-age transitioning into the work place and leisure.”

Said Torisky, “Great cost and human resource benefits can continue to be achieved by further pursuing Connie’s visions and building on the efforts of those who continue to focus on them. Spectrum Charter School is proof of this. I pray it enjoys growth, replication, and ongoing success for years to come.”

Please let us know if you would like to be involved in Spectrum’s next 10 years as a donor/benefactor, working on a strategic plan, serving on an advisory board (meeting twice a year).



  • Co-founders begin charter school planning discussions
  • Awarded PA Department of Education charter school planning grant


  • Charter application approved by Gateway Board of School Directors
  • The first charter school of its kind in the nation
  • Co-founders awarded grants from Edith L. Trees Foundation and Pittsburgh Foundation


  • Rented and moved into a small building on Old Wm. Penn Hwy., Monroeville
  • First day of school: 09.05.2000, maximum enrollment of 24 students, ages 14 to 21


  • Leased and moved into a larger building on Northern Pike, Monroeville


  • Lowered eligibility entry age from 14 to 13 years old


  • Increased student enrollment from 24 to 32


  • Awarded a 2-Year PA Department of Education Special Education Performance Grant: “Transition to Community-based Employment”
  • Featured on NBC’s Today Show as part of their autism 10-part series


  • Awarded a PA Department of Public Welfare Bureau of Autism Grant: “Transition to Community-based Employment”


  • Purchased 4 acres, including the previously-leased school building and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh’s Office Building, which is located on this same property


  • Spectrum’s Board of Trustees approved the motion to move forward with the green & healthy renovation & expansion project. Purpose: To give more children unique opportunities of growth, community-based learning, self-worth, and full potential; to enable students to become productive citizens; to not only benefit themselves but their community as well.


  • Founding member of the Green Building Alliance of Pittsburgh’s Green & Healthy Schools Academy; 12-13 school year


  • Participating in year 2 of the Green & Healthy Schools Academy; 13-14 school year


  • Students have volunteered an estimated 13,000 hours in the community since 2000.
  • Students & staff awarded “Moving to the Head of the Class: Recognizing Progress toward Energy Efficiency in Pennsylvania’s Schools”
  • Students & staff met the requirements for a level Gold Designation of the SWPA Sustainable Small Business Program, which is a program of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Champions for Sustainability Business Network.


Looking ahead to Spectrum’s next 15 years

Please let us know if you would like to be involved in Spectrum’s next 15 years as a donor/benefactor, working on a strategic plan, serving on an advisory board (meeting twice a year).

We welcome any other skills and talents that you would like to share. Just call Michelle at 412.374.8130 to talk about how you may contribute to the Spectrum Charter School mission.