1. What is your background and what do you teach?

I have a B.S. in Communication Sciences & Disorders and an M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology. Both degrees are from Syracuse University. I am a speech therapist at the North Syracuse Early Education Program, which is part of the North Syracuse Central School District. This is an integrated program, where the classrooms contain eight children designated with special needs and eight children with no special needs. I work with children with special needs aging in the range of 3-5 years. I work collaboratively with a variety of other professionals, such as OT, PT, psychologists, social workers, vision therapists, and teaching assistants to provide a comprehensive program to meet children’s special needs.

2. What is the process when a student needs speech therapy during school?

Parents need to contact their home school district to get an evaluation. Once the assessment is completed, a CPSE (Committee on Preschool Education) meeting occurs to determine if the child qualifies for any type of special education service or program. If a student is referred for services, they may attend a special education preschool program, such as NSEEP, or get related services within their home or preschool depending on their need.

3. Depending on a child’s speech disorder, can they practice skills at home and in the community?

All children can practice their communication and language skills at home and within the community. Parents can read to their children to expose them to new vocabulary and have them point to and label pictures. A variety of WH questions can be practiced just by having simple conversations with children. Children can practice following directions while completing their daily routines. When parents take their children to places within the community, it exposes them to new vocabulary and opportunities to interact with others.

4. What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the progress of the students. Many children start with our program with limited functional language, and by the time they leave for kindergarten, they can communicate with their peers and adults.

Know an educator who deserves a mention? Email courtneyk@familytimescny.com.

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