• spotlight

  • May Spotlight: Speech/Language Support Program

    Posted by AIU on 5/24/2024 12:00:00 PM

    Collage of Speech Language Supports

    The AIU Speech/Language support program constantly punches above its weight, and program director Thomas Rea and supervisor Eileen Cirelli say they like it that way. The dedicated professionals in this small but mighty program of just under 50 staff members serve more than 1900 students across the region to help them overcome communication and swallowing difficulties, empowering them to express themselves effectively and participate fully in their lives.

    During this National Speech-Language-Hearing Month, we not only recognize the significance of the program’s impact and work but highlight their continued efforts to cultivate a pipeline of exceptional Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) to meet the growing demands of our community.

    SLPs with the AIU are just about everywhere – they are in districts, charter schools, non-public schools, our AIU-operated Special Education Schools, and many other places of learning. As part of its culture of excellence, the AIU Speech/Language program is at the forefront of professional development and active research in the field. Districts look to us for reliable information in alignment with ASHA (American Speech/Language Hearing Association) best practices.

    One of the cornerstones of our program is our renowned clinical fellowship opportunities for recent graduates. The Speech/Language program works with more than a dozen university partners, including Pitt, NYU, Thiel, Carlow, Penn State, and Duquesne. These fellowships provide invaluable hands-on experience over nine months, allowing budding SLPs to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world settings under the guidance of seasoned mentors.  

    Alana Price

    Alana Price, a current clinical fellow who came from Duquesne University’s program – and is just weeks away from the end of her nine-month fellowship – attested to this immersive learning experience. Price reflected on the weekly journal she’s been required to complete since the start. “It has been a great way to look back on when I first started and (see) how far I've come,” she said.

    Elizabeth Hartung, another clinical fellow and Duquesne grad, said her entry into the speech field came by way of her family’s experience with the AIU Preschool Early Intervention Program. “That initial experience has truly fueled and driven me through my academics and now into the field!”  

    From workshops to seminars, the AIU Speech/Language program understands that every SLP has unique areas of interest and expertise. That's why the program actively encourages and supports additional learning in specialized areas such as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Selective Mutism, Functional Voice Disorders, and Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  

    By empowering staff to delve deeper into these critical areas, we're not only enriching their professional growth but also enhancing the level of support we provide for our students.

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  • Thank you, Teachers & Nurses!

    Posted by AIU on 5/10/2024 1:30:00 PM

    A collage of photos from our AIU-operated special education schools of luncheons provided to teachers this week (5/2/2024)

    This week, we salute educators across America, including all those selflessly serving our students in the Western Pennsylvania region!

    At the AIU-operated Special Education Schools, parents provided our staff with scrumptious food for lunch. We thank and appreciate what our educators bring to schools every single day!

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  • Sunrise School Students compete in Special Olympics competition in Plum!

    Posted by AIU on 5/9/2024 12:30:00 PM

    We're so proud of the eagles from Sunrise School who competed this week at Plum in the outdoor Special Olympics competition! 

    Students participated in multiple athletic disciplines, from jumping, throwing, bocce, track and soccer! There was truly something for everyone! Thanks to Plum and the Special Olympics committee for inviting us!

    See the photo gallery below for more!

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  • 2024 Sunrise Superhero 5K!

    Posted by AIU on 5/2/2024 9:05:00 AM

    Thanks to all the students, staff and their loved ones who took part in the 2024 Sunrise Superhero 5K! This event is planned for months, and for the first time, students had a role in the design of the 5K t-shirt!

    Check out some of our runners with the stylish t-shirt and more in the photo gallery below!

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  • AIU Special Education Students take part in Wiffle Ball Tournament!

    Posted by AIU on 5/1/2024 10:10:00 AM

    Recently, students from Mon Valley, Pathfinder and Sunrise Schools gathered at Pathfinder School for a special Wiffle Ball tournament!

    With the help of students from Bethel Park High School, our athletes took part in a morning full of swings and running! Students cheered their friends from the sidelines with signage designed in their classrooms, and the event was followed by a delicious pizza party!

    Check out some of the fun in the photo gallery below!

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  • Disability Summit 2024

    Posted by AIU on 4/30/2024 10:30:00 AM

    Thanks to Rep. Dan Miller for partnering with the AIU Special Education and Pupil Services Division this year as part of the 11th annual Disability Summit!

    This year, AIU Pupil Services Director Brian Welles moderated an important panel on student transition, and the AIU took part in the transition fair that took place that same day.

    See more photos of the two days of events in the photo gallery below:

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  • April Spotlight: Aquatics Instruction and Therapy Supports at Pathfinder School

    Posted by Junior Gonzalez on 4/12/2024 4:00:00 PM

    Many things make Pathfinder School stand out among schools for special education learners -- its location, thriving greenhouse, and dedicated AIU teachers and staff for starters. One other feature is its 55,000-gallon swimming pool offering unique aquatic experiences and innovative physical therapy supports for students.Students play water polo with Sandy Sherman (center) in the Pathfinder School Pool. Pathfinder School Principal Nicholas Fratto says the pool serves as a major part of educational programming at the school. "The health benefits of swimming are well-documented," he said, noting that for students with physical challenges, swimming provides a low-impact form of exercise and helps reinforce many physical therapy goals such as building muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination.

    Pathfinder believes no student should feel discouraged or excluded from joining the fun inside the pool. To maximize accessibility, the pool features an adaptive lift to assist students entering and exiting the pool who have difficulty or cannot use the pool later. In addition, water walkers, adaptive chairs, and flotation devices such as life jackets and aqua joggers are used for every student to get in on the action.Water polo between Patfinder and Sunrise Schools.

    Pathfinder Adapted Physical Education Teacher Chris Garofalo trains students to Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program standards, which focus on building skills one step at a time and at their own pace. Garofalo has taught at Pathfinder for 11 years. The students are regularly assessed on each of the skills and parents are provided with reports, so they can see what skills their child has mastered. Garofalo and other educators who work in pool instruction are certified lifeguards.

    Both Garofalo and support teacher Sandy Sherman have several certifications for swimming instruction and pool operation, as well as lifeguarding.

    In recent years, even students at our other AIU-operated special education schools have been invited to enjoy the benefits of the Pathfinder pool. To learn more about Pathfinder School, visit the school's webpage.

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  • Photo Gallery: Mess Fest brings science and creativity together at Mon Valley

    Posted by AIU on 4/12/2024 9:00:00 AM

    Dozens of Mon Valley students brought their family and friends to the second annual Mess Fest, and it was a huge success!

    Mon Valley's hallways were packed with folks bidding on raffles, trying colorful and bubbly experiments, and seeing student artwork all around the hallways! It was a huge success. Thanks to Ms. Tarah for her hard work putting this together and to our dedicated Mon Valley staff who stayed in the evening to welcome our families!

    See some of the action in the photo gallery below!

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  • Photo Gallery: Duquesne Band Performs at Pathfinder School!

    Posted by AIU on 4/11/2024 12:00:00 PM

    Recently, students at Pathfinder were treated to a mix of the classics as well as familiar themes to popular movies and TV shows in a special musical performance in the multi-purpose room!

    Members of the Duquesne Brass Quintet also spoke to students about the differences between their instruments. It was an all-around great time!

    See photos of the performance in the gallery below!

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  • Photo Gallery: Sensory Glow Run Shines at Pathfinder!

    Posted by AIU on 4/9/2024 4:25:00 PM

    Students were transfixed when entering the Pathfinder gym last week. They found a huge, inflatable arch marking the beginning and end of the first-ever Pathfinder Sensory Glow Run! The event included glow-in-the-dark eyewear and necklaces, so students could see one another in the dark (and for fashion purposes, of course)! 

    The run benefited a future sensory playground inside the school! Thanks to everyone for their participation and to the Pittsburgh marathon for their support! See photos from the Sensory Glow Run in the gallery below:

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