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Aug
18

First day of school…Update

SandyandCourtney2022

I wrote the following blog post in 2019 and I wanted to update the post. So much has happened since 2019 and we have all been through so much. There have been many ups and downs and I am grateful to have made it through.

Courtney, my daughter, has changed jobs and is thriving in her new environment. She also met a wonderful, young man and I am happy to call him my son-in-law after a beautiful wedding in June.

Sandy and her daughter Courtney

I am now in my 21st year of serving students and teachers and am looking forward to another great school year. Please let us know how we can assist you and your students.     

 

First day of school….wait a new job?

It is unbelievable to think that my daughter will be waking up and going to her new job on Monday.  Didn’t I just send her off to Kindergarten a minute ago?  It seems like it, but she has finished her Masters in Communication Disorders at Murray State University and is heading off to her new job as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) on Monday.

In talking to her over the last couple of days I can tell she is both excited and filled with a little anxiety.  “Mom, they are going to send ME real kids!” she said to me recently.  Don’t you worry Courtney, you have all the skills you need, you just may not know it yet.  

Courtney has so many resources to help her along the way and she has and will utilize them.  She follows specialists in her field on social media and has already used many of their ideas and suggestions.  She has met and worked with many great SLP’s during her college experience and they have also been great mentors giving her resources and support.  She will be surrounded by other SLP’s at her new job and I do not doubt that they will help guide her when needed.

Courtney has been preparing for her new job along the way.  My mom and I have had fun scanning yard sales and the thrift stores for items she will need.  We have found many toys, puzzles, and games that she will use with her clients!  After attending the Promoting Achievement through Technology and INstruction for all Students (PATINS) Tech Expo in 2019 she decided she needed a Blubee Pal and a Time Timer.  Her wishlist for graduation presents included the Bluebee, the Time Timer, a baby doll, and a race car set.  My family found her list to be quite interesting!  Come join us at the PATINS Tech Expo, April 20, 2023 In Carmel, IN, to see what exciting items you can find for your classroom.

Being around the PATINS Project for almost 20 years has given her an insight into Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) and AAC devices, switch use, basic and complex Assistive Technology (AT), iPad use and Apps and many other concepts that many of her colleagues have not been exposed to.  She was helping me do presentations in high school so I know that she is prepared!

She is also very lucky to have the support of the whole PATINS/ICAM team behind her!  We have a fantastic staff that is ready to help not only Courtney but all Indiana Public School personnel.  How can we help you?

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Nov
19

SLPs and me!

20 years ago, I received a phone call that changed the course of my professional career. At the time, I was actively seeking a full-time elementary teaching position. There were few openings and it was difficult to even get an interview. I decided to take a part-time position in the Tech Department so that I could make some contacts and hopefully, this would help me to at least get an interview.

The Tech Department job ended up being a wonderful opportunity. I learned so much and was able to build on my computer skills while assisting classroom teachers and other school personnel. I worked with so many outstanding staff members including Media Specialists and Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP). 

Unbeknownst to me, an SLP who I had assisted and worked closely with had made a phone call to the Special Education Director about a job that was posted for an Assistive Technology (AT) position with the PATINS Project. She felt that my education background along with the Tech experience made me a great candidate for this position. I received a phone call from him and he asked me to come in for an interview. 

While I was excited, honored, and surprised I was also caught off guard. I was not sure what Assistive Technology was, but I was eager to do some research and to discover more about this field. Luckily for me, the interview went well and I was named the new PATINS Project Coordinator for SW Indiana. 

I have since moved into the position of ICAM (Indiana Center for Accessible Materials) Digital Services Specialist. These 20 years have been incredible for me both professionally and personally. I have been blessed to be able to impact so many teachers, staff, and especially students. I am so proud of the work that the PATINS Project/ICAM does every day.

On the personal side, I was also exposing AT to my daughter. I frequently used her to try out new AT products and solutions. When she was old enough, I took her to trainings and workshops, and before I knew it she was jumping in to assist and even to present! Now, as many of you know because I tell everyone as a very proud mom, she is an SLP with a school corporation in Indiana. 

An SLP changed the course of my professional career and now an SLP (my daughter) will be changing the course of many students. 

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May
29

Gas Up the RV. It's Time for Speech Therapy!

RV Aerial view of RV driving on highway through a forest of green and yellow trees.
My classmate burst through the teal trimmed door smiling from ear to ear. All of us were instantly distracted from our silent reading to a simple object in his hand. A blob of bright red, sticky slime. Another classmate whispered to him “Where did you get it?” To which the beaming student replied, “I got it at the band!”

“What?!” I thought. “ Why didn’t I know about this band? And they give prizes?! Sign me up!”

I stomped all the way home fuming that my mom didn’t tell me about the school band. My mom, genuinely confused, said she hadn’t heard about it either. A few days went by and my mom mentioned it to my teacher who laughed and said there was, in fact, no band. However, the student was most likely referring to “the van”, which was actually a gigantic RV stationed in our school parking lot where the speech-language pathologist had an office. One master’s degree later, I can confidently say the band/van mystery is solved and that student was appropriately identified for services.

To close out Better Speech and Hearing month this May, let's give a shout out to all those SLPs who’ve had offices in janitors closets and mobile homes, shared offices, moved offices (with or without notice), or had no office. You know it’s not the space that’s important, it’s the quality of the therapy provided. You can serve students anywhere because communication is everywhere!

What’s unique about PATINS specialists is that they also work in all types of "offices" as they train in classrooms, schools, and districts. They’ve seen it all and have helped you UDL-ify your space. In the next couple of days, our specialists will be traveling to Summer of eLearning conferences near you, Indiana educators. If you can’t make it to any of those, check out our new Professional Development Guide to request a no-cost training or have us design one for you. PATINS will provide virtual or in-person training no matter the size of your space.

Where’s the most unusual place you’ve taught students?  


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Nov
15

Everyday UDL

When I heard we could invite a guest blogger, I knew who mine would be from the get-go. Introducing my former college study buddy, roommate for many years, and always my professional/life guide, Sammi Bowyer.

Currently, there are two preschools in Indiana lucky to have her as their Speech-Language Pathologist. Her incredible optimism and #AvidReader* status lend well to providing the highest quality services for our students.

Sammi & Jen standing next to the

*
#AvidReader is someone who loves reading, reads a lot, and isn’t ashamed to flaunt it.  

Now, when you hear Universal design for learning (UDL), do you think, “Great, one more thing I have to do...?” It’s okay if you do. But, before you click out of the page, keep reading. I think you’ll find Sammi’s take a common-sense way to look at the importance of incorporating UDL in the classroom as we empower and show care for all our students.

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When I think about UDL, I think about the unique interests of my students, how I can teach a concept in multiple formats, and the many ways in which my students share with me what they know. By utilizing UDL, I work to remove barriers so all my students are able to use their unique skill sets as learners and people. My targets for what I need to teach them doesn’t shift, but rather the ways in which they can go about learning and demonstrating their knowledge can.

We use the three principles of UDL, representation, expression, and engagement, all the time in our everyday lives. For example, think about the expression principle the next time you are completing a task at work, researching something new, or offering help to a friend in need. Then, think about all the different ways you might be able to reach your end goal. Chances are that one of those ways will stick out as making the most sense for you, but it might not be the same way that your spouse, your child, your co-worker, or your friend would approach the same task.

When we utilize UDL in the classroom, we are modeling for our students that their ideas are valued.

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If you want to learn more about how to put UDL into practice in your classroom, I highly recommend registering for Access to Education 2018 by Nov. 21st. Dr. Nancy Holsapple, Indiana Director of Special Education, and Dr. Kelly J. Grillo, 2018 Florida Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Marjorie Crick Teacher of the Year, lead the way with inspiring keynotes followed by great breakout sessions!   

PATINS Project Access to Education 2018

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