YES Prep Public Schools
Samantha Ramirez

YES Prep is deeply committed to the idea that All Means All and to ensuring that students with disabilities have equitable access to the supports & opportunities they deserve.  Today on Special Education Day, we want to take a moment to celebrate our incredible speech team! 

The YES Prep speech team evaluates students to identify communication disorders and provides speech services directly to students. Speech services can make an incredible difference for our students’ college access and their ability to advocate for themselves and tell their story!

We sat down with several members of our speech team to hear more about what makes YES Prep such a special place and about the work that they are privileged to do with students and families. 

What made you want to become a Speech Language Pathologist or Speech Language Pathology Assistant? 

Alexandra Trevino, Director of Special Education Evaluation and a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) shared, “I was on the path to becoming a teacher, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to pursue elementary special education or become a high school English teacher. While student teaching in a kindergarten classroom in college, the teacher I was shadowing casually suggested that I follow one of my students to his speech therapy session with the school speech-language pathologist. I often think of how this casual suggestion changed the trajectory of my life. I was fascinated by this person's ability to individualize her teaching, guide and instruct in such a fun, engaging and supportive way, and the impact she had on this student's ability to communicate. 

One thing that has continued to draw me to being an SLP is that it is always exciting. I can spend the morning on the carpet playing with a student in pre-K to develop their sounds and then the afternoon pushing into a high school English class to work on developing a student's thesis statement for an essay. Being able to connect with students and work with them across several years (sometimes their whole time in middle and high school until they graduate!) is such a privilege.”

What makes YES Prep unique, especially when it comes to our students with disabilities?

Selena Crochet, SLP, and Beatriz Garcia, LP Assistant, love how YES Prep recognizes and celebrates individual differences while also making sure every student is a part of the community. 

Crochet shared, “I really treasure the environment at YES Prep. Not only is there a spirit of inclusivity, but everyone's differences are celebrated. In the middle school and high school population I work with, I see INCLUSION of all students on all levels. One of my students from a self-contained classroom is on the basketball team. Each week this student comes to therapy excited about the upcoming game and afternoon practice. In the mornings before school, I see him included in pick-up game of basketball. In that way, the culture at YES Prep allows him to highlight his strengths and be a greater part of the YES Prep community.”

Garcia added, “YES Prep is unique because we celebrate the differences that make everyone an individual! We provide speech therapy services to two students at YES Prep Southeast Secondary that are siblings, but their goals and services are tailored to their specific needs as individuals! They both have very different personalities and we celebrate it by allowing them to be themselves.”

Our speech team supports students in reaching their fullest potential, both inside and outside the classroom.  That includes preparing students for life after graduation. For example, one student recently practiced communication skills by calling disability services offices at the colleges he was interested in. The student was able to ask in-the-moment questions that will help him choose a college as a senior. It also helped him move toward independence and prepare to transition to his next opportunity.

How has your work with students empowered them to tell their own story?

As students grow in their communication skills, they also improve their literacy skills, participate more in class, and make tremendous academic growth across content areas. Zoe Wilson and Jaclyn Kavanaugh, both SLPs, shared two experiences of helping students expand their ability to communicate with others.

Wilson shared, “Communication is one of our basic human rights and being able to support students with this skill is a privilege. Part of our job is to advocate for our students, but also to support students to self-advocate. One of the most powerful approaches I have used is the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) which supports non-verbal children to initiate requests and develop language skills as they progress through stages of the program. When implemented with the collaboration of a team (SLP, teachers, family members, students and peers), this gives students who were previously unable to communicate their basic needs a tool to communicate with others and make their needs known.”

Kavanaugh added, “I have a student whose first day at YES Prep was my first day at YES too. Back then, he struggled to form his own words to talk about the world around him. He used repeated movie quotes to share with others. His choices made sense within context when you realized where the quotes came from and how they applied to his experiences. Because of the freedom I have at YES to find what works for each individual student, we started looking at those movie scenes and talking about the reasons people in the movies said those things. We identified how they felt in those instances.”

By meeting him where he was and asking him to work within his field of expertise, he's grown into a young man who can talk about how he is feeling, ask for what he needs and share information in a way that any of his communication partners can understand. He still loves movies and loves sharing them with the people in his life, but now he can talk about why he loves those movies too!”

At YES Prep, we take pride in the services and resources provided to our students. Whether a student is in pre-K or twelfth grade, they have access to the tools needed to be successful during their time at YES Prep and after they graduate. On this Special Education Day, please join us in thanking our Special Education team members for all the work they do every day to make sure that our students succeed.

To find out more about how YES Prep supports students with disabilities, access our website here.

To learn more about how to support students with communication at home, check out these resources from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) 

Teacher Application Opens December 15

The 2022-23 teacher application is opening soon. We're accepting applications for grade levels pre-K through 12 at our 23 campuses across Houston. If you or someone you know is looking for a career where you can make an impact, apply today to join the YES Prep team, where your passion meets purpose. Immediate openings are also available for select roles. Learn more by visiting yesprep.org/careers