Priding itself on its innovative education and business practices, Rocky Mount Prep in Rocky Mount, NC, strives to teach students “knowledge, leadership and character” to “develop well-rounded, successful citizens.” Serving 1,236 students in grades K-12, the tuition-free public charter school has, for the last two years, been using methodology based on Rocketship Elementary and Carpe Diem High School’s blended learning models. The daily instruction model allows students from kindergarten to 12th grade to spend part of their day completing assignments and researching subject areas on the computer which is blended with classroom instruction.
However, Rocky Mount Prep’s program was not always so cutting edge. Prior to implementing their highly praised blended learning model, its special education department was experiencing technical difficulties. The school’s not-so urban area, accompanied by a local shortage of speech-language pathologists, resulted in inconsistent therapy sessions, leaving parents concerned that their children were not getting the help they needed.
“We had several SLPs that were driving up to an hour and a half to serve our students,” said Doug Haynes, chief executive officer of Rocky Mount Prep. “There were some times they could not make the drive so kids were not getting consistent therapy.”
Prior to his position at Rocky Mount Prep, Haynes had been studying online instruction and tutoring for several years. When he found PresenceLearning in an online search for online therapy, he thought this could be of great use to students.
“I found PresenceLearning when they were just starting out,” said Haynes. “When I got my job at Rocky Mount, I saw that we were having difficulties with the speech program. Since we were moving into blended learning, I knew to contact PresenceLearning because they were an emerging leader in the field.”
In 2012, Rocky Mount implemented PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy with around 30 students.
Rocky Mount Prep is now using online speech therapy with nearly 50 students, mostly in grades K-5 and some in middle school. PresenceLearning’s online SLPs conduct evaluations, deliver therapy sessions and complete documentation for each speech therapy case, allowing students to receive consistent, high quality therapy and for Rocky Mount to stay in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
“We have received very positive feedback on the quality of therapy, the amount of student improvement and the amount of information to which parents have access,” said Haynes. “Initially, parents were skeptical about teletherapy, but we asked parents to give it a chance and it has paid off.”
With PresenceLearning, Rocky Mount Prep has been able to include special education in their blended learning approach and serve all of their students better.