Luncheon caps RiteCare summer schedule to enhance children's literacy and language skills

During their visit June 22, members of the Scottish Rite review the research project of a young camper at COSD Instructor Karen Arndt's Adventure Language and Literacy (ALL) Camp.

Interim Provost Joseph Scartelli joined a celebration to cap the 2017 RiteCare Clinics' summer of helping children develop and enhance communication and literacy skills.

The luncheon in Kyle Hall’s Multi-Purpose Room June 22 was highlighted by James Cole, Scottish Rite Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Virginia, who presented Scartelli a check for $33,000 to support the university’s continuing initiatives in partnership with the Virginia Scottish Rite Foundation (VSRF).

On behalf of the assembled 150 children, parents, grandparents, Communication Science and Disorders (COSD) faculty and staff, graduate student clinicians, undergraduate volunteers and music therapy faculty and students, COSD Chair Diane Millar welcomed and thanked the Scottish Rite guests.

Scartelli echoed Millar’s gratitude, saying “Thanks from the bottom of my heart and that of the institution for your support of the incredible work that is being done, needs to be done and has to be done.” 

Reflecting on the heritage of the Radford-VSRF partnership and the VSRF’s pivotal role, Scartelli said, “No institution can do this work without the committed philanthropy of partners like your organization and its members.”


The 2017 summer class of Scottish Rite Fellowship recipients join Provost Scartelli and Jim Cole, Scottish Rite Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Virginia.

The event marked the 23rd year that Radford’s COSD Department and the VSRF have helped children of limited means overcome a variety of communication disorders. For more than two decades, the VSRF has shared almost $1 million dollars with the COSD Department toward achieving the organizations’ shared goals of improving speaking, hearing, writing and learning.

The VSRF has also helped prepare a generation of speech-language pathologists (SLP) with hands-on experience working with children and families.

“I am honored to witness today something that makes a difference,” said Cole. “Our members and our organization are humbled by what you clinicians do and the difference you are making in the lives of others.”

Cole and regional Scottish Rite members toured some of the 2017 Summer RiteCare programs made possible by their efforts:

  • The Language and Literacy Summer Institute, led by COSD Associate Professor Elizabeth Lanter, to support academic achievement by preschool to middle school children through improved oral and written language skills.
  • The Preschool Language Lab (PLL), a program for toddlers and pre-school-aged children with identified communication disorders or who are at risk of failing to develop strong communication skills. The PLL is an interprofessional collaboration between COSD student-clinicians and music therapy students, led by Corey Cassidy, WCHHS associate dean and associate COSD professor, and Music Therapist Angela Obst.
  • The Radford Adventure Language and Literacy (ALL) Camp, led by COSD Instructor Karen Arndt, used STEM-focused activities for school-aged children to develop literacy skills.

For the first time, the RiteCare program expanded to host satellite programs at Christiansburg Middle School (CMS):

  • The Summer Enrichment Camp, organized by COSD Assistant Professor Karen Davis, engaged students in language-based group activities to encourage active learning and improved reading comprehension and written language skills for elementary school aged children.
  • The Social Skills Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, led by Millar, gave middle schoolers opportunities to sharpen social communication skills and improve peer interactions.

Jessie Zarate, a fourth-grader from Bell Heth Elementary in Radford, and Amelia Arndt, a first-grader from St. John Newman Academy in Blacksburg, teamed up to research and present their findings on the properties and production of invisible ink during the ALL Camp's open house for their guests from the Scottish Rite.

Hosting RiteCare camps at satellite locations was important progress for the COSD Department and its students’ professional preparation, said Millar. 

“We have unique and valuable opportunities to serve the community. The schools are overwhelmed with the number of children who need our services,” said Millar.

Davis said the satellite camps season the Radford first-year graduate students before they take to the field next year for two more clinical experiences. 

“In the school model, our students have to collaborate with each other and their colleagues at the school, as well as their clients’ families,” Davis said. “It is a fluid environment that forces them to adjust their plans and actions.”

The environment stimulated Christine Braunstetter, one of the counselors-in-training at the CMS site.

“I liked being part of a team and the interaction with multiple clients,” Braunstetter said. “I had a chance to immerse myself in their interests and needs by getting to know them over a longer period of time in a place they were comfortable.”

Six RU second-year graduate students were recipients of Scottish Rite Scholarships to assist with organizing the camps and work with clients:

  • Megan Bell
  • Stephanie Leirer
  • Libby Scale
  • Jenni Williams
  • Amy Weldon
  • Samantha Logue

Scott worked with elementary school kids in the Adventure Language and Literacy camp held on campus and was heartened by her students’ growth as well as her own.

“I learned to multi-task at a new level because I was working with an energetic group,” Scott said.

Amy Weldon was team leader at the Language and Literacy Institute and said the field experience helped her grow as a speech language pathologist (SLP).“I have more confidence in my abilities. I feel like I broadened the scope of potential ways I can help my clients,” Weldon said. “I loved the kids’ energy and those moments when I saw things click for them.”

The Summer RiteCare camps complement the activities of the Radford University Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic (RUSLHC) which provides services by graduate interns that are supervised by state-licensed and American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) certified SLP’s. Annually, the RUSLHC provides more than 3,000 clinical hours of training while serving clients from the New River and Roanoke valleys in areas such as prevention, assessment and treatment of speech, language, swallowing and hearing disorders.

Jul 20, 2017
Don Bowman
(540) 831-5182