The Hope Early Learning Center staff​

Jamie Larson, MA Ed

Education: Bachelor's Degree in Communication Disorders from Geneva College and Masters of Education with an emphasis on Autism from Slipery Rock University. 

Focus of Practice: Special Education: Autism 


Experience:  Jamie Larson joined The Hope Learning Center in 2017.  Jamie has recently earned her Master's degree in education with an emphasis in Autism.  Jamie has gained experience throughout her career working with children throughout varied settings and through clinical experience as a therapist.  Jamie has recently gained her certification as a Registered Behavior Technician.

Asha Persaud, MS - Executive Director


Asha Persaud earned dual bachelor degrees from The Pennsylvania State University in Psychology and Spanish and completed coursework in Behavior Analysis. She went on to earn her Masters of Science in School Psychology from Duquesne University. With over 15 years of research experience, Ms. Persaud has trained extensively in diagnostic assessments and behavioral interventions. Ms.Persaud was the Research Coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Autism Research at the University of Pittsburgh. She was responsible for administrating the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and coordinating a research project on language processing in individuals with autism. Ms. Persaud has several years of experience as a TSS, BSC, and Regional Director of a wraparound agency, specializing in autism spectrum disorders. As an educational consultant for several school districts, Ms. Persaud has given presentations and trained teachers and paraprofessionals on inclusion strategies in the regular education classroom and assisted in the development of behavior plans. Ms. Persaud was the Director of Autism Services for The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, where she offered consultation and training services to families and staff.

Ms. Persaud has been involved in the Autism Speaks “Walk Now for Autism” for several years and has served as a Co-Chair for the School Teams. She is the President of The Hope for Autism Foundation, a non-profit company founded to benefit families and individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders.  Ms. Persaud was honored as one of Pittsburgh Magazine's 40 Under 40, and was the Recipient of Fund it Forward's 2016 The Spirit of the Community Award.

Sarah Albinger, Assistant Director


​​Education:  Bachelor of Science in Child Development from West Virginia University

Focus of Practice: Child Development and Family Studies with a specialization in Birth to 5 years old. 

Experience:  Miss Sarah joined The Hope Learning Center in 2017.  Sarah has certifications in Infant/Toddler and Early Childhood Education.  During her time in West Virginia, she was given the opportunity to teach in some of the best preschools and childcare centers in the state while working alongside nationally recognized educators.  Sarah's goal is to create an atmosphere with optimal experiences enabling children to reach significant developmental milestones. 

Heather L Burnside BS, ECE, CIT


Education: Bachelors degree in Child Development and Family Studies with certification in Early Childhood and Infant and Toddler from West Virginia University. Associates Degree in Early Childhood from PowerPoint Community and Technical College.

Focus of Practice:  Child Development and Family studies. 

Experience: Heather Burnside joined The Hope Learning Center in 2018.  Heather has many years of experience through student teaching for four years in a preschool setting with children ages three and four and infant age. Heather has an extensive background working with ECCERS and a Reggio inspired classroom setting which delves into a strong educational base beginning in a child’s early formative years. Heather has developed numerous lesson plans and skill-building exercises that help younger children learn to be successful in elementary school, which lays a critical foundation for a successful future.