Our Stories





The Bay School (TBS), May’s school program in California, spent the last few months transforming their community garden plot into an outdoor classroom thanks to the Youth Garden Grant from @KidsGardening.org. With help of a school parent and expert home gardener, students and staff have worked together to prepare the soil, sow seeds, plant starters, weed, and water. Now, the garden is bursting with life! Tomatoes, carrots, peppers, squash, nasturtium, artichoke, rosemary, cilantro, lemon balm, strawberries, chives, milkweed, marigolds, beans, and zinnias are just some of the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers that now fill the space.



Teacher Appreciation Week is a fabulous time of year to shower our teachers and staff with love! We simply would not be the aMAYzing organization we are without our dedicated, skilled, and compassionate team.  

We will start our peek behind the scenes at The Bay School in Santa Cruz, California, which surprised teachers and staff with a different treat every day of the week—a beautiful breakfast spread, a taco cart, a yoga class (and other "Wellness Wednesday" treats and raffle prizes), an ice cream sundae bar, and a pizza lunch. Thank you, teachers and staff, for positively impacting the lives of the individuals and families we serve. And we also invited parents to send in their appreciation, and we got too many to share, but we wanted to include this one today. See more photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mayinstitute/albums/72177720311546495



Thank you, @CalABA, for hosting an incredible event! Last weekend, our team on the West Coast enjoyed the CalABA 41st Western Regional Conference on Behavior Analysis. The conference theme, INSPIRE, did just that—our team left with exciting, innovative ideas for expanding education, research, collaboration, mentorship, diversity, equity, and inclusion in their work and across our programs. 

The first photo left to right: Laura Hammond, BCBA; Johnny Meza, The Bay School (TBS) Teacher; Ben Gray, TBS Behavior Analyst; Brandie Rankin, TBS Behavior Analyst; Dr. Bee Kamana, TBS Director of Education and Clinical Services; Steph Iwanciow, TBS Behavior Analyst; and Laura Noland, TBS Director of Community Engagement and Development. 

The second photo, left to right: Laura Noland, TBS Director of Community Engagement and Development; and Dr. Bee Kamana, TBS Director of Education and Clinical Services. 



Student Dylan from The Bay School, May Institute’s school program in California, is learning how to make a new request on his speech-generating device (SGD) with support of his Instructor, Paige. SGDs can be powerful tools for learners with autism who have limited or no vocal communication. In addition to teaching requesting (i.e., manding), SGDs are also used to teach other verbal behaviors. Dr. Sarah Frampton and Dr. Alice Shillingsburg investigated matrix training as a tool to teach labeling (i.e., tacting) to learners using SGDs. View their replication and extension study in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 54(3), 1235-1250.  



Please join us in the joyful celebration of our 2022 Exceptional Services Award recipients. We are sharing their remarkable stories one at a time. This week meet Gilbert Arias, School Operations Coordinator at The Bay School in Santa Cruz, California. And check out his video! Read his full nomination here: https://www.mayinstitute.org/about/employee-honors/gilbert-ariasbr/2022-exceptional-service-award-recipient/ .  #AboveAndBeyond #EmployeeAwards #aMAYzing #autism #AutismAcceptanceMonth 


Pictured here (l-r) are Pam, Laura, and Andrea—and some of the friends they met at the farm!

The Bay School (TBS), our school program in California, recently welcomed Pam Raymond (Senior Vice President of Educational Services) for a visit. In addition to spending time with the students and team at TBS, Pam visited Common Roots Farm—an urban, organic farm in Santa Cruz—with Andrea Gold (TBS Executive Director) and Laura Noland (TBS Director of Community Engagement and Development). During this visit, they learned more about the farm’s vast involvement in supporting individuals with developmental disabilities in the community.



Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Taylor Schauer (TBS Teacher); Dr. Andrea Gold (TBS Executive Director); Dr. Bee Kamana (TBS Director of Education and Clinical Services); Laurel Schumm (TBS Teacher); Brandie Rankin (TBS Behavior Analyst); Jim Toohey (TBS Coordinator of Vocational Services); Dr. Willow Hozella (May’s Divisional Director of Clinical Services and Training); Becky Barall (TBS Teacher); and Johnny Meza (TBS Teacher).

The Bay School (TBS), our school program in California, recently welcomed Dr. Willow Hozella, Divisional Director of Clinical Services and Training, for a week-long visit. Dr. Hozella supports our school programs in many ways, but maybe one of the most valuable contributions to TBS is through the Peer Review process. Peer Review is an unmatched opportunity for our team to receive advanced training and clinical support, helping ensure high quality services for the individuals in our care. TBS thanks Dr. Hozella for his visit and looks forward to having him back!


In February, five students from The Bay School (TBS), our school program in California, attended a performance by the Santa Cruz Symphony at the Santa Cruz Memorial Auditorium. The performance, entitled The Orchestra Sings, represented different styles of music from around the world and included selections from Beethoven, Nathalie Joachim, and Reena Esmail. As part of the Symphony’s Link Up program, the event was preceded by a school visit from Norman Peck, Principal Percussion Chair with the Santa Cruz Symphony. Norman led a group of 15 TBS students through a discussion of musical instruments from around the world. Students had the opportunity to try out drums, symbols, blocks, rain sticks, and just about every other type of percussion instrument. This visit marks the fifth year TBS has participated in this event—thank you to Norman and the Santa Cruz Symphony for this memorable experience!


At The Bay School in Santa Cruz, Calif., one of the week's highlights is yoga time. They set up the room with mats for students to come to learn and practice yoga as part of their ongoing health and wellness program. Yoga has many benefits for kids, including stretching and mobility, improved balance, and developing other gross motor skills, and it is adaptable to any physical limitations. #namaste



Sometimes the fun is to be part of the behind-the-scenes team that quietly, secretly sets up for a spectacular Valentine's Day. And you will notice that it takes quite a bit of help, even from a few staff kids, to make it perfect. Surprise! Thanks to The Bay School for sharing this bit of magic.



Every year, students at The Bay School (our school program in California) smile for the camera on Picture Day. What makes this day even more special is the man behind the camera—TBS Operations Coordinator, Gil Arias! 

Among many of Gil’s talents, he is an exceptional photographer. At any school event, you will see Gil behind a lens capturing a happy moment with students. He takes stunning portraits as well and became our official Picture Day photographer a couple years ago, transforming it into a school fundraising opportunity. After receiving her son’s school picture, one parent shared, “You captured [our son] so beautifully. Thank you for such a treasured memory of a very special year in our son's life.”



The Bay School (TBS), May’s school program in California, won a Youth Garden Grant from @KidsGardening.org! With the award, TBS will transform this community garden plot into an outdoor classroom—where students will sow seeds, water, weed, and harvest organic fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Laura Noland, TBS Director of Community Engagement and Development, shares, “This grant will allow us to purchase essential tools and supplies. Students will soon enjoy the hands-on, sensory experience of gardening while building meaningful skills in a community setting. Right now it is a blank canvas, but the plot will become a colorful, lush garden for our school to enjoy this Spring.” Stay tuned for photos as this garden comes to life in the coming months.

We thank #YouthGardenGrant for selecting TBS as a recipient! Here is a link to the 2023 Youth Garden Grant Winner page.


Anyone familiar with The Bay School (TBS), May’s school program in California, understands what a special place it is—a school filled with energetic, fun, creative, supportive, and loving staff who care deeply for the individuals served and each other… like one big, close-knit family!

Last week, the team at TBS returned to the “Secret Garden” courtyard at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History for their annual Staff Holiday Party. They cozied up underneath the twinkly café lights, enjoying street tacos, hot chocolate and churros, games, a raffle, and personalized gift bags—lovingly packed with the help of a very special grandma (i.e., “Moni”). This annual staff appreciation event is one of the school’s favorite times of the year to gather and celebrate all the people who bring the magic to The Bay School. See all the photos in our Flickr album

Thank you, team TBS!!!


Congratulations to Becky Barall, who recently passed the BCBA exam. She is a Special Education Teacher at The Bay School in Santa Cruz, California (one of May's six special education schools). Good job, Becky! And welcome to the expanding family of May employees with BCBAs.






In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we celebrate Cyrus, a student of The Bay School (TBS)—May’s school program in Santa Cruz, California—who became a paid employee of GOODLES in June 2022. At GOODLES, a fun and healthy mac and cheese company Co-founded by Gal Gadot (i.e., Wonder Woman!), Cyrus proudly works at the headquarters packaging influencer boxes. Jen Zeszut, CEO and Co-founder, shares:

“I know The Bay School to be a loving, enriching education and life-skills space for very special kids – my nephew has been a student there for more than 15 years! But I didn’t know that The Bay School was training students to join the workforce! What an amazing surprise – and tremendous opportunity for GOODLES. Cyrus is such a joy to have on our team! After saying good morning to us all, we turn on the Disney tunes (his favorite), and Cyrus gets to work right away. He’s on our influencer team, helping to get samples of our healthy mac and cheese out to celebrities, athletes, and other stars! He has grown so much in a short amount of time. He loves coming to work -- and getting a paycheck! Likewise - our whole team looks forward to the days when Cyrus is in the office. Thank you to The Bay School for introducing us to Cyrus!”

Cyrus is one of many students of TBS who engage in competitive, integrated employment as part of the school’s Employment and Community Inclusion (ECI) program. Through the ECI program, students receive 1:1 support from trained instructors to learn vocational skills in community job settings. Goodwill, Pacific Cookie Company, and Coast Paper and Supply are some of the many other local businesses in Santa Cruz that employ TBS students and help provide these invaluable learning opportunities.

With only 21.5 percent of individuals with disabilities accessing gainful employment in the U.S. (U.S. Department of Labor, August 2022), TBS strives to maximize vocational training to help students build meaningful skills, increase independence, and prepare for successful employment through adulthood. Jim Toohey, TBS Coordinator of Vocational Services, shares, “When one of our students are hired by a business, it broadens their world to include new social connections, opportunities for learning, and an increased sense of self-worth. We know these experiences are preparing our students as best as possible for success after graduation.”

We congratulate Cyrus on the exceptional growth he has made and thank him for his ongoing contributions to GOODLES!

See all of the photos of his typical workday on our Flickr Album.


At The Bay School (TBS), students and staff hold their annual Harvest Festival filled with costumes, games, and snacks. The staff in each classroom have fun coordinating their team costume theme every year. Three Cheers to the students and staff at TBS! 🌞 🌖 🌟 . See all of the photos in Flickr. 


Today marks two years since the tragic house fire that took the lives of Muhammed and Feda Almaliti. The Bay School, our school program in Santa Cruz, California, memorialized these two beautiful people with a collaborative mosaic art piece proudly displayed at the school entrance. The piece features a colorful sunrise with two figures dancing under a lemon tree. Each leaf and piece of fruit from the tree was lovingly created by students and staff of The Bay School. We thank artist Linda Klett Piera for leading the mosaic project and craftsman Kevin Murphy for building the custom bench beside it.

In honor of Muhammed and Feda, please take time today to learn about the September 26th Project, an annual emergency preparedness checkup for families who support loved ones with autism and special needs. https://www.september26.org/. To see all of the photos visit this Flickr album.



The Bay School (TBS), May’s school program in California, enjoyed a team-building day at the beach this summer! TBS employees gathered for this event at Twin Lakes Beach in Santa Cruz to indulge in a barbeque lunch and some healthy competition. Water balloon volleyball, relay races, Kubb, and a pie-eating contest were some of the big events on the docket. Our team at TBS does phenomenal work with their students, and “Beach Day” is one way they bring everyone together to support each other and have fun! Visit the photo album to see all the pictures.


The Bay School, our school program in California, celebrated a successful Autism Awareness Month and art auction! Featuring a collection of student-made multi-media collaborative art pieces, the virtual auction culminated in an in-person event with food, music, sensory activities, and all the artwork on display. Thanks to the generosity of families, friends, and community sponsors, The Bay School raised over $13,000! We cannot thank our California community enough for supporting this vital school and our fabulous students. #SantaCruzCA #autism #dayschool #artwork See all the photos on the Flickr album.


This is a fabulous article about The Bay School in Santa Cruz, Calif., one of May's autism schools. They are celebrating Autism Awareness month in grand style. Thanks to The Santa-Cruz Sentinel for sharing our story. #artist#autism #DevelopmentalDisabilities #hope. See the original article here.



We’re proud to introduce you to Stephanie Iwanciow, one of our Exceptional Service Award winners! Stephanie is a Behavior Analyst at The Bay School (one of six May schools) in Santa Cruz, Calif. You can watch her in the video below, and read her award nomination here#GreatEmployees #Congratulations #ESAWinner



This month marks one year since we celebrated Daniel’s graduation from The Bay School, May’s special education school in California! Family and school staff—including Teacher Becky Barall and long-term core team members Peter Crofts and Nick Dassler—were among those who joined Daniel for his special day. And do you see that GIGANTIC, yummy, chocolate cookie? It was a gift from Daniel’s employer, Pacific Cookie Company in Santa Cruz, where Daniel gained meaningful paid employment experience. It doesn’t get any sweeter! We are proud of you, Daniel, and we miss you! #TBS Please see all of the days photos here.