Kids in front of piano

Southwest Florida Music Education Center to bring world-class music education, life skills to neurodivergent students

A world-class music education center is coming to Southwest Florida. A partnership initiative with the The Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education, the Southwest Florida Music Education Center (SWFLMEC) provides music education and life skills development for neurodivergent young adults. SWFLMEC will be one of only a few music education programs available to such students in the United States.

“It is well documented that most neurodivergent young adults face significant challenges when preparing for higher education and the workforce,” said Rob Moher, Founder and Board Chair of SWFLMEC. “Currently, there are few programs designed to fill this gap anywhere in the United States, and we are fortunate to partner with the The Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education to develop a high-quality music education program for neurodivergent young adults in Southwest Florida. By providing state-of-the-art holistic music education and mentoring, we are preparing students for meaningful growth opportunities while creating a pathway toward social integration, employment and enrichment.”

SWFLMEC has hired Jennifer Clark to serve as the organization’s vice president to oversee operations, marketing, development and strategic initiatives. Clark, a graduate of the University of Florida and Leadership Collier class of 2021, brings wide-ranging experience from several Southwest Florida nonprofits and excels in nonprofit leadership and community impact.

The 501(c)3 nonprofit will provide comprehensive music education for neurodivergent individuals such as those with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, social pragmatic communication disorder and anxiety-related disorders in the context of neurodiversity. At the time of enrollment, students must be ages 16 to 30 with low to moderate support needs and must demonstrate mostly independent self-care skills. Students should also possess intermediate level or higher music skills on one or more instrument(s), including voice, percussion, strings, guitar and piano/keyboard.

“As a catalyst for the inclusion of people with disabilities in visual and performing arts education, we at the The Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education are excited about our partnership with SWFLMEC,” said Dr. Rhoda Bernard, Founding Managing Director of the The Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education. “We are particularly looking forward to bringing our internationally renowned professional development programs and initiatives to local educators in Florida in order to better prepare and support them in reaching students with autism and related anxiety and language disorders in the music classroom, studio and ensemble setting.”

Currently, the Southwest Florida Music Education Center offers integrated programming for all interested students through The Creative Group in Naples. In partnership with The Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education, specialized programs currently in development include a two-year high school transition music certificate and a four-year post-secondary music certificate focusing on core areas of musical skill development. Music education will include ensemble, individual lessons and performance on one or more instrument; music theory and ear training; music history; and electives in areas such as music technology and production, electronic music and songwriting. A focus on personal well-being is an integrative part of the SWFLMEC curriculum. In addition to music education, students will gain life skills such as: managing anxiety through proven strategies; adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and creating meaningful relationships; soft skills including self-advocacy, time management, executive functioning and personal safety; professional skills including business planning, branding and entrepreneurism; and peer mentoring opportunities and experiences to connect students with other students and professional musicians. Community education opportunities will begin in fall 2021 and the two- and four-year programs will launch by fall 2023.
Phase two of the project will include an onsite student living center and dormitory. The Southwest Florida Music Education Center is currently seeking groundbreaking support to build the new music center and dormitory, including land purchase and campus development. For more information or to support the project, contact Jennifer Clark at or 239.205.8258 or visit

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Dr. Teresa Taylor

Dr. Teresa Taylor

Consulting Director of Mental Health

In her role as consulting director of mental health, Dr. Teresa Herrero Taylor will provide behavioral and program support to student musicians and staff. Born and raised in Boca Raton, FL, Taylor has practiced as a licensed psychologist and doctoral-level board certified behavior analyst for over 15 years, conducting evaluations and providing individual, group and/or family intervention and therapy working with both children and adults with anxiety, depression, ADHD, executive functioning weaknesses, autism spectrum disorder, social skills weaknesses, behavioral difficulties at home or school, and/or other life adjustment needs. An experienced, independent, motivational leader, she is passionate about mission-driven work and is excited about empowering neurodivergent young adults to be at the center of change through music and the arts. She has been an adjunct assistant professor in the Graduate Psychology Department at Rider University for the past nine years and has worked in New Jersey public education for more than 20 years, overseeing behavioral, social skills, and mental health assessment, intervention, and programming across multiple school districts as a director of special services.