Byng Public Schools

Located in southeast Oklahoma, the district serves 1,800 students across its fi ve schools.

The Challenge

Byng Public Schools struggled to build a true relationship with the on-site agency it used to deliver occupational therapy (OT) to its students with special needs. It was seeking a provider that could provide a more collaborative, fl exible, and cost-eff ective partnership.

The Solution

The district partnered with PresenceLearning starting in the 2016-17 school year to deliver online OT services to 35 students in grades K-10. From the onset, the PresenceLearning therapist was an integral part of the school team as she participated in district seminars, delivered trainings to special education staff , and communicated regularly with teachers.

The Results

Through a close working relationship between therapists, paraprofessionals, and teachers, the district has been able to seamlessly carry over the skills students are learning in sessions to the classroom. PresenceLearning also performs OT assessments, helping to ensure that students who need therapy services receive them, and that students who have achieved their goals are able to exit OT services in an effi cient manner.

Prior to PresenceLearning, I felt like students were being carried through the therapy process longer than they needed to be. Now, I feel like the needs of students are being met appropriately.

- Sherri Coats, M.Ed., Director of Special Services at Byng Public Schools

The Story Of Byng Public Schools

Byng Public Schools, which serves approximately 1,800 students across fi ve school sites in rural southeast Oklahoma, was seeking a more collaborative and costeff ective partnership with an occupational therapy (OT) provider when it turned to PresenceLearning in the 2016-17 school year.

The district had previously contracted with a local, onsite agency to deliver OT services. “I wanted there to be more collaboration and communication as part of the therapy process,” said Sherri Coats, M.Ed., Director of Special Services at Byng Public Schools. “It was important to me that therapists were a real part of our team and were spending time updating and consulting our teachers about the progress of their students.”

In the initial year of its implementation, PresenceLearning, alongside the district’s onsite paraprofessionals, delivered services to 35 students in grades K-10 via its secure, proprietary online platform. It additionally helped to properly assess students and, in some cases, dismiss them completely from OT services once they met their goals.

“Prior to PresenceLearning, I felt like students were being carried through the therapy process longer than they needed to be,” said Coats. “Now, I feel like the needs of students are being met appropriately.”

“Our initial OT from PresenceLearning who has been with us from the beginning, has been so terrific. She immediately felt very much like part of the team,” said Coats. “She is always great about communicating with teachers both by email and phone, and she even attended one of our district meetings despite living more than two hours away. During that meeting, she provided our special education staff with training on sensory needs and primitive reflexes and how they can use various strategies to help students in the classroom.”
During the actual therapy sessions, OTs from PresenceLearning use easily-accessible and cost-effective materials as they engage students, including those with autism, in a variety of activities to build underlying skills and improve fine, gross, and visual motor function for the educational setting. Examples of activities include having students use scissors while maintaining a thumb up position, rolling and pinching Play-Doh, practicing certain body motions and yoga poses, and even having students participate in relay races during group sessions in which they have to carry cotton balls with a clothespin.

“I love that Mary is willing to see students in groups of two if the students’ needs and the skills being worked on are similar,” said Coats.

“During both individual and group sessions, we always try to make it fun for the students,” said Mary Kitchen, one of the PresenceLearning OTs who serve students in the district. “During the sessions, the paraprofessionals and I are always collaborating and problem solving to figure out the best strategies for the students. We are constantly working hand-in-hand and are on the same page. The paraprofessionals are also great at taking everything we do in the sessions back to the classroom so that students are continually practicing strategies throughout the week.”

“Previously, our teachers often didn’t even know what skills their students were working on during therapy,” said Coats. “This has been a huge change with PresenceLearning. Now, teachers are always informed and when they have questions or want to discuss ideas, Mary is the first person they call.”

“Throughout the years, we’ve seen a lot of gains with our students, notably with one student who has autism,” added Coats. “Our success has been a team effort and PresenceLearning has played a big part in it.”

Throughout the years, we’ve seen a lot of gains with our students, notably with one student who has autism. Our success has been a team effort and PresenceLearning has played a big part in it.

- Sherri Coats, M.Ed., Director of Special Services at Byng Public Schools