Norfolk Public Schools in Nebraska Wins National Award for its Use of Online Therapy with Students with Special Needs

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District is one of 12 winners of PresenceLearning’s annual Awards of Excellence recognizing outstanding leadership and student progress in special education

PresenceLearning

“Our students are excited to attend their online therapy sessions,” said Luhr. “We were concerned with students staying on task during sessions, but they are really engaged with the online SLPs.”

PresenceLearning, the leading telehealth network of live, online special education related service providers, recently named Norfolk Public Schools in Norfolk, NE as a winner of its 4th annual Awards of Excellence. The awards recognized 12 educational organizations nationwide for their outstanding organizational leadership, teamwork, and improved outcomes in helping students with special needs succeed.

Norfolk Public Schools is a Class A school district in northeast Nebraska, serving approximately 4,300 K-12 students. When the district was short an SLP and was unable to fill the position for the 2016-17 school year, Mary Luhr, the district’s Director of Special Services, decided to partner with PresenceLearning to provide online speech-language therapy services. Five online SLPs began working with approximately 55 students from two of Norfolk’s elementary schools that year.

“Our students are excited to attend their online therapy sessions,” said Luhr. “We were concerned with students staying on task during sessions, but they are really engaged with the online SLPs.”

Now in its second year of the program, the online SLPs conduct live, ongoing direct therapy services with approximately 80 students via PresenceLearning’s secure online therapy platform. They tailor sessions to students’ language disorders and articulation needs outlined in their IEPs, and are able to incorporate students’ academic work and interests. Just like the district’s onsite SLPs, the online SLPs participate in IEP planning, meet with district staff and students’ families to discuss student progress, and conduct assessments. The program attracted the interest of nearby districts experiencing therapist shortages, and Luhr shared Norfolk Public Schools’ experience and success with her colleagues.

“We have great communication with our staff, students’ families, and the online SLPs, and our Customer Success Manager is fantastic,” said Luhr. “She formally meets with us on a quarterly basis and she frequently touches base to make sure the program is running smoothly. The level of service we receive from PresenceLearning is amazing.”

The 12 PresenceLearning Awards of Excellence winners were selected based on positive student progress and engagement, strong organizational leadership, informed parental support, and standout partnership and collaboration during the 2016-17 school year. Each winner will receive a plaque and their story will be featured on PresenceLearning’s website.

“The leaders and staff at these educational organizations, including Norfolk Public Schools, have shown remarkable commitment and vision by embracing a new way to serve students with special needs,” said Clay Whitehead, CEO and co-founder of PresenceLearning. “Their dedication enables students to make significant progress on their goals in a supportive environment and we are honored to recognize them for their leadership.”

About PresenceLearning
PresenceLearning (http://www.presencelearning.com) is the leading telehealth network of providers of clinical services and assessments to educational organizations. The PresenceLearning care network has provided over one million sessions of live, online speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral interventions and mental health services, diagnostic services and assessments, and early childhood services for children with special needs.

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Molly Hovorka
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