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Presence Spotlight for Schools: Alexandra Richard, M.S., CCC-SLP

Alexandra Richard, M.S., CCC-SLP, attended Syracuse University where she received a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and an M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

Can you tell us about how you collaborate with teachers and other school staff members?

Teachers and staff members are a vital part of a student’s progress. I work every year to try and build a strong foundation with schools and their teams. Open communication and the ability to learn from one another are so important.

I always like to just get on the phone and talk to them and figure out their best method of communicating and see how we can bridge the gap between how I communicate, and how they communicate. Whether it’s time zones, email, phone, text messages, I identify how we can communicate effectively and fast so that we are effectively supporting our students. They get the information that they need, and I do as well.

How do you build trust and rapport with parents?

I always send out an email to all families at the beginning of the year so they get to know who their child’s therapist is. Building trust and rapport in a teletherapy or face-to-face environment is not different. A parent needs to know and understand that you are in their child’s corner and that they as parents are part of the student team to help make progress.

I think that it’s important for other providers who are not Presence providers to realize that what you do in the brick-and-mortar school is very similar to what you do in telehealth. They need to know that even though you’re not face-to-face, you’re just as big a part of the team as the people that are face-to-face.

What advice would you give districts considering online therapy?

My advice to districts is to know that we at Presence are there for them as a school, and it takes a team to make the online therapy experience great. A contact person and open communication improve the success of the service delivery.

I think that just having those meetings and putting a face to an email or putting a face to a telephone call is key. I think that’s very important when people know who you are. They have a tendency to be able to reach out and be more confident, knowing that you’ll be there for them. It’s important to know that it works both ways. Some schools do that really well, and some schools need a little bit more of our support to help manage that.

The schools that are going to be most successful are the ones who put a little bit of energy into team building upfront.

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