By Don Bowman
SCOTTISH RITE largesse sustains COSD outreach and service
In one of his last official actions before retirement last summer, Interim Provost Joseph Scartelli joined the celebration that wrapped up the annual RiteCare Clinics’ summer of helping children develop and enhance communication and literacy skills.
Scartelli’s swan song was one of many poignant aspects of the luncheon in Kyle Hall’s multipurpose room to acknowledge the contribution by the Virginia Scottish Rite Foundation (VSRF) towards sustaining the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders’ ongoing community service work.
James Cole, Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Virginia, presented Scartelli a check for $33,000 to support the enduring partnership’s initiatives that help children of the New River Valley.
On behalf of more than 150 campers, parents, grandparents, Communication Sciences and Disorders (COSD) faculty and staff, graduate student clinicians, undergraduate volunteers and music therapy faculty and students, COSD Chair Diane Millar thanked the Scottish Rite organization and its guests from the Roanoke and New River Valleys.
Scartelli echoed Millar’s gratitude, saying “Thanks from the bottom of my heart and that of this 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 event marked the 23rd year that Radford’s COSD Department and the VSRF have teamed up to help children of limited means overcome a variety of communication disorders. Over more than two decades, the VSRF has generously shared almost $1 million with the COSD Department. In that time, the VSRF has prepared a generation of speech-language pathologists (SLP) with hands-on experience working with children and families.
The luncheon concluded a morning during which Cole and regional Scottish Rite members toured some of the 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 studentclinicians and music therapy students, led by WCHHS Associate Dean and Associate COSD Professor Corey Cassidy and music therapist Angela Obst.
- The Radford Adventure Language and Literacy (ALL) Camp, led by COSD instructor Karen Arndt, that used STEM-focused activities for school-aged children to develop literacy skills.
I am honored to witness today something that makes a difference. Our members and our organization are humbled by what you clinicians do and the difference you are making in the lives of others."
For the first time, the RiteCare program enabled the COSD Department to expand its reach and host satellite programs at Christiansburg Middle School (CMS):
- The Summer Enrichment Camp, organized by COSD Assistant Professor Karen Davis, to engage students in language-based group activities and encourage active learning and improve reading comprehension and written language skills by elementary school aged children.
- The Social Skills Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, led by Millar, to give middle schoolers on the autism scale opportunities to sharpen social communication skills and improve peer interactions.
Hosting RiteCare camps at satellite locations marked important progress for the COSD Department and its students’ professional preparation, said Millar.
“The schools are overwhelmed with the number of children who need our services,” said Millar. “The schoolbased camps are additions to the many unique and valuable ways that Radford serves the community.”
Davis said the satellite camps season the first-year graduate students before they take to the field for additional clinical experiences.
“In the school model, our students have to collaborate with each other and their colleagues at the school, as well as 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.”
Amy Weldon was a team leader at the Language and Literacy Institute. She said the field experience helped her grow as an 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.
The Summer RiteCare camps complement the activities of the Radford University Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic (RUSLHC) which provides services by graduate interns who are supervised by state-licensed and American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) certified SLPs. 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.