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 Gila Cohen-Shaw, our SLP who works with students from Medford School District in Medford, OR.
“Gila is truly an amazing overall clinician and leader at Medford School District. She has tremendous communication skills with all of the school staff and continually goes above and beyond to ensure Medford is getting the best possible services! Gila is a true mentor to all of the PresenceLearning SLPs assigned to Medford School District and is considered our “expert” at this site.” – Teri Becker, Gila’s Senior Clinical Consultant (SCC)
Q: Share a story about a student you’ve worked with online who has touched you in some way.
A: “E” is a 3rd grader with significant fluency issues that were impacting him socially. He was very aware of this and spoke honestly and very maturely. He shared his frustration with going to therapy with little success for years and was skeptical that any more therapy would help. Together we created a plan and worked diligently, using strategies discussed and modelled in therapy so much so that his mother contacted me wondering how she can “get in on the magic!” Since she worked full time as an educator, she joined us remotely on the platform and observed a few sessions so she could incorporate these strategies into E’s home life. This family’s dedication to improving E’s communication skills was inspiring to me!
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: In one word- COMMUNICATION! Every clinician made themselves available to attend meetings and collaborate with teachers and families. It was Medford’s “culture” to “excuse” onsite SLPs from IEP meetings. However, it was our goal to have PresenceLearning SLPs become part of the Medford team by attending IEP meetings without fail! PresenceLearning SLPs “covered” for one another by subbing or attending meetings in other’s absence. While most meetings were held via teleconference, we are beginning to hold them on the platform.
Q: What attracted you to working online?
A: Two attractions for me were the idea that children who may not receive quality services could be reached, and the flexibility of working from home.
Q: What are some of the things you like best about telepractice?
A: I have the privilege of working with high quality therapists who support me if needed. It also gives me independence and I’m part of “cutting edge.”
Q: What has surprised you the most about working online?
A: How, in spite of the miles between colleagues, how team-oriented it is! It is as much if not more team-oriented as being an onsite SLP.
Q: How do you think telepractice has made you better as a clinician?
A: I have become more animated, and reinvigorated working via telepractice. I have also become more patient and tolerant when learning different school cultures as I have encountered districts in all parts of the United States. I have also been able to use a plethora of material available to us SLPs on the platform to teach creatively!
Gila is an important part of the success at Medford School District. Thank you so much for serving students so well, Gila!