Out of the more than 1,000 schools using PresenceLearning online speech therapy, 10 school districts were recently awarded the PresenceLearning Award of Excellence. These districts were selected based on the percentage of students who improved one level or more in spoken language production and spoken language comprehension on the Functional Communication Measures (FCMs) scales during the 2013-14 school year.
The impressive progress these students made would not be possible without the support, expertise and dedication of our online speech-language pathologists (SLPs). This blog series profiles the very talented people who helped these districts achieve such high success rates.
In this Q & A, we chat with Bethany Kessel, our SLP who worked with students from Union County Schools in Blairsville, GA.
“Bethany is extremely organized, very attention-to-detail oriented, and an outstanding clinician. She works tirelessly to ensure the best possible services are delivered to her students, always collaborating with onsite staff to ensure a team approach is delivered.” – Teri Becker, Bethany’s Senior Clinical Consultant (SCC)
Q: How long have you been working with PresenceLearning?
A: I have been serving students with PresenceLearning since August 2012.
Q: Share a story about a student you’ve worked with online who has touched you in some way.
A: A parent shared this feedback about a very bright middle school student I had been seeing for speech services. We worked on articulation carryover and indirect fluency intervention: “Thank you for all you did for him. You truly helped [him] a lot. We can finally understand him.”
In my opinion, this is the highest achievement I can hope for. I serve each day with the goal of helping all my students reach their communication potential to this same degree.
Q: The school you worked with in 2013-14 achieved better results than nearly 1,000 others. Why do you think there has been so much success at that school?
A: The majority of the students served by PresenceLearning in that district were at the middle school and high school levels, and many had reached a stage of ‘burning out’ in terms of motivation to attend and work in speech and language therapy. With the introduction of virtual service delivery, most of the adolescents we served became less resistant to attending sessions and more engaged in therapy tasks, which included reinforcing activities such as online games and YouTube videos targeted for language skills. In addition, collaboration with the on-site SLP, paraprofessionals and special education staff allowed PresenceLearning clinicians to provide relevant intervention with curriculum connections.
Q: What attracted you to working online?
A: Prior to becoming an SLP, I worked in a virtual charter school as a general education teacher for 6 years, so I am familiar with the online educational environment. I had observed the growth and development of telepractice during my graduate program at Kent State. I wanted to work with underserved populations, but I was not free to move away from my current home. The PresenceLearning platform offered support and a fantastic set of resources to begin conducting telepractice with populations in need, and it just continues to expand and improve over time.
Q: How has the PresenceLearning community benefited you as an SLP?
A: Being in contact with such a large number of experienced professionals with diverse background experience and areas of expertise is an amazing benefit. I frequently reach out to the SLP community with questions about evaluation, intervention, and just ideas to keep therapy fresh and interesting! Highly skilled SLPs have been incredibly generous with time, advice, and resources that have helped me build professional knowledge and skills.
Thank you, Bethany for your dedication to serving students at Union County. The district’s student progress achievement could not be done without you!