A multi-year investment from the Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) is allowing the Speech-Language-Hearing Center at Worcester State University to help students at Nativity School of Worcester. This investment by is just one example of several community-based initiatives DCU is financially supporting at the university.
WSU began a partnership with Nativity School, a private, Jesuit, tuition-free middle school for boys, about five years ago, says Ann Veneziano-Korzec, director of the Speech-Language-Hearing Center.
“The dean and I met with the headmaster and principal at Nativity School and talked about their needs and how we could help meet them,” she says.
As a result of this, the Speech-Language-Hearing Center began providing hearing screenings to students there. If students needed speech-language services, Nativity School provided transportation to Worcester State for speech-language evaluations therapy.
While the Speech-Language-Hearing Center wanted to provide the best assistance, it did not have the resources and clinical staff necessary to provide additional services for the 60 to 70 students who attend Nativity School.
However, since receiving the grant from DCU, the Speech-Language-Hearing Center has expanded its services.
Last year, a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist was hired by the Speech-Language-Hearing Center, and for the past two semesters, has been providing services onsite at Nativity School. A WSU graduate student accompanied the speech-language pathologist each semester, learning from the master clinician and accruing clinical experience. The grant also allowed the graduate students, one for the fall and one for the spring semester, to receive a stipend.
The speech-language pathologist and graduate student screened the hearing of the fifth-grade students, as they were new to the school. All students were screened for speech and language skills. Additionally, for the students who failed the speech and language screenings, the Speech-Language-Hearing Center was able to look more closely at those students’ speech and language skills by conducting diagnostic evaluations. All these services were provided at Nativity School; it was no longer necessary to transport Nativity School students to WSU.
Along with hiring the speech-language pathologist and the graduate student stipend, the grant paid for equipment, technology, evaluation tools, and treatment materials.
There is also enough money in the grant to allow the Speech-Language-Hearing Center to continue its services at Nativity School for another year.
The center will again provide speech-language-hearing screenings for incoming fifth graders. Students who fail the screenings will be evaluated and speech-language treatment will be provided to those for whom treatment is recommended.
“I would like to see our relationship continue ad infinitum in some way,” says Veneziano-Korzec. “It is my mission, and I believe I speak for our entire team, to provide as much community service as possible. We just wish we had more help to do it.”