At Townsend Community School, about 25% of the student population qualify for special education services, yet it was extremely difficult to provide services to students who were so spread out across the state. Townsend Community School needed a solution to provide special education services that were compatible with its nontraditional school setting.
In 2016, the school partnered with Presence to provide its students with special education services through teletherapy, which has consisted of speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling services. Today the school continues to partner with Presence to meet its needs. Presence provides access to remote clinicians to offer services no matter where the student is that school day.
Students have enjoyed the services and rarely ever complain about attending sessions. “Students feel very comfortable and productive during sessions,” said Jill Hudgel, special education coordinator at Townsend Community School. “It’s great to see students enjoying services and making progress, and it is always huge to be able to provide them something to brighten their day.”
For students in the school building, they feel special when they get to go upstairs for their session. “You can tell in their demeanor that they are making progress,” said Hudgel. “It’s been great having the flexibility of serving students no matter where they are.”
Townsend Community School has also gained helpful insights from Presence. “The clinicians are proactive about clarifying any possible concerns and explaining questions,” said Hudgel. “It’s nice having clinicians who are confident while having discussions with us. They’re very proactive in reaching out to us and keeping us informed of any red flags.”
Parents’ reaction to the delivery of online therapy services was similar to their initial reaction to a nontraditional school; there was hesitation from parents toward teletherapy. That hesitation quickly went away when they realized the accommodations were working for their students. “Once parents were able to see the quality of the sessions, they were able to understand these accommodations are what is best for our students,” said Hudgel.
The Presence administrative platform has also helped the school answer any questions parents may have about their child’s progress. “When parents have any questions, I can quickly refer to the notes in the platform,” said Hudgel. “I don’t see the students every day, so it’s useful to have all the progress and notes in one place so I can answer parents’ questions.” The platform has also been helpful as the school goes through a special education audit by the state. They are able to easily and quickly pull the reports needed, which has relieved the school’s stressors during the audit.
Working with Presence has been an eye opening experience for Hudgel. “It’s been great to provide stability with speech therapy or occupational therapy,” said Hudgel. “A little goes a long way so it has been something special for our students.”Townsend Community School continues to partner with Presence because of its high quality services and flexibility to give the school exactly what it needs.