Carroll County Public Schools is expanding its post-secondary speech and language services and programs. This update from Christine Wittle, Supervisor of Elementary Special Education for Carroll County Public Schools, highlights these offerings:

Exciting and innovative opportunities await students with disabilities in Carroll County as they transition to post-secondary education, employment, and participation within their communities. Through the lens of Speech/Language Pathology, the team has been afforded a unique opportunity to grow a distinctive model for delivering speech and language related services for our county’s 18-21 year old population.

Under the Coordinator of Postsecondary Transition Programs, Carroll County Public Schools has emerged as a premier leader, pioneering research-based, forward-thinking concepts regarding transition education programs and community work-based experiences. Carroll County now has five post-secondary programs in collaboration with community partners: Two held on the campuses of local colleges, Carroll Community College and McDaniel College; one onsite at Carroll Hospital; and two at various locations within the community of Westminster, Maryland.

All students participating in a post-secondary program receive speech and language services as they are an integral component of employment preparation and community participation. Significant degrees of grade level instructional performance exist among programs. However, all students, including our most vulnerable complex communicators using light and high tech communication systems, are being prepared for employment and community involvement upon exit from the school system.

Collaborating with our assistive technology team, communication systems are seamless integrated into classroom instruction, peer interactions and job training with the speech/language pathologist, teachers, paraprofessionals, and job coaches fluent in the use of a student’s augmentative/alternative communication system. Services are delivered in a designated class entitled “Communication and Social Skills Class” with the Speech/Language Pathologist as the instructor. Classes take place twice weekly for one hour sessions or one time per week for 90 minutes. Monthly team meetings are held with all instructors to facilitate a well-integrated program.

The focus is improving receptive, expressive and pragmatic language as well as speech skills within the context and development of soft skills that lead to employment success. Direct, explicit instruction, modeling, role-playing, class discussion, video presentations, video recording, observation and analysis, team activities, self-assessment, and performance-based feedback are the hallmarks of skill development. Additionally, given our unique venues, students have consistent opportunities to authentically apply learned communication skills within a community setting including college sponsored events, community outings to local stores and restaurants and participation in job site hosted receptions. It has truly been one of the most enriching career experiences to be a part of a collaborative team focused on ground breaking work that impacts the lives of students and prepares them to be inclusive community members.