Jacksonville University is partnering with Duval County Public Schools to provide additional speech and language services to the GRASP Academy, an innovative choice school that assists students who have documented challenges in reading, writing and math.
Starting in January of this year, faculty from the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences at JU began training graduate students in the University’s new Speech-Language Pathology training program to provide enhanced language and literacy strategies to GRASP Academy students.
Dr. Raul Prezas, an expert in bilingual speech and language assessment, and Dr. Robin Edge, an expert in language intervention, are providing oversight for the additional SLP services being offered to the GRASP students. Both are Assistant Professors in the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences’ Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
“Working collaboratively as a speech language pathology team, we are offering supplementary speech and language assistance to expand the services that children currently receive,” Dr. Prezas said. “We intend to work closely with teachers to create extended literacy modules. Ultimately, our goal is to provide enrichment activities with a multisensory focus.”
The benefits of the partnership also provide enrichment to other children at the GRASP Academy who will be involved in classroom literacy activities. Drs. Prezas and Edge are accompanied by at least six JU SLP graduate students who assist with the language and literacy interventions.
The children at the GRASP Academy not only read, write and listen to instruction, but also participate in multisensory, hands-on focused classroom activities that enable them to learn concepts in different ways. Presenting the materials in innovative ways enables each learner to absorb the materials in the method that works best for his or her learning style.
The GRASP Academy is the only school in Duval County providing these pioneering services. Similarly, the Master of Science in SLP program at JU, which is committed to providing stellar, world-class training to students, is the first and only program of its kind in Northeast Florida. Faculty and staff work diligently preparing students to assess and treat communication disorders across the lifespan, but community partners are critical to provide training to the SLP graduate students.
JU is an ideal community partner with the GRASP Academy because of its proximity to the school, and the joint effort provides an excellent opportunity for hands-on training for JU’s graduate SLP students. Molly Brock, EE/SS Supervisor of Related Services for Duval County Public Schools, said she is pleased with the collaboration.
“We are excited about our partnership with JU, which will allow for more of their Speech-Language Pathology graduate students into our educational environment. Through this opportunity, they will gain the experience needed to be better prepared to meet the needs of students. In the coming years, we anticipate hiring many of their graduates.”
Dr. Prezas and Dr. Edge additionally expressed their enthusiasm for the partnership.
“We are very excited about our work with DCPS and the GRASP Academy and have enjoyed watching our graduate students interact with the students at GRASP,” Dr. Edge said.
Dr. Prezas added: “It’s a great way to serve the community and a progressive way to train our graduate students. Our methods of training are already receiving high regard from students desiring to come to JU to receive their Master’s degree in SLP. It’s a win-win.”