Accolades, Award or Notable Achievements
I was first featured in an article in Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners (May 12, 2008 Vol.24 No.10) regarding OT’s in the work place and my development of a Snoezelen sensory room at my employer St. John of God Community Services. The most notable and recent publications, including television interview on a local station, occurred as a result of a sensory room I advocated for at Woodbury City Public Schools district. With the change in districts sending students out of district less, this room was a necessity. It utilized daily by both our special needs students and our general education population needing movement breaks throughout their day to help them focus and learn better within their classroom environment. An article on my room was published on the front page of the Courier-Post(Wednesday, November 4, 2015) issue. It has been published several times in other newspapers, and has received positive feedback from several districts. As mentioned, a television interview was conducted and several other school districts and therapists have reached out to me as a result, to learn how they can develop a room for their district. Following the cover story on the Courier-Post, a nation-wide magazine called District Administration also ran the story in their magazine which has been wonderful in creating awareness of the sensory needs of students, and the importance of providing a sensory environment to promote sensory regulation needed for them to perform their daily occupations within the school environment.
I want to help individuals become the best they can be in the most challenging times of their lives.
In high school, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career where I could make a difference in people’s lives. I used to volunteer at a nursing home, where my grandmother was a nurse. Seeing the respect and love she gave each patient, and her devotion to making each of their days a little better and more fulfilling, was the foundation for my future career as an occupational therapist. I graduated from Quinnipiac University in 1997, and after 3 fieldwork level II placements in a mental health facility, physical dysfunction sub acute facility, and a specialized school district, I knew my calling was to work with children. My first position was with a contract agency where I gained a variety of experience working in several public school districts and outpatient pediatric clinics. After a year, I decided I wanted to work at a facility with a variety of experienced professionals. For 15 years, I was employed at St. John of God Community Services in Westville Grove, NJ,. This was a special needs school servicing children from pre-school to 21 years of age that were moderately to severely disabled. I was amazed and intrigued by their motivation, no matter what their disability. I also became a Per Diem Early Intervention provider for Inspira Health Network, and continue to provide EI services presently, as I find it truly rewarding to work with families. Working in both of these settings, I saw the significant impact of sensory processing disorders in the home as well as the school setting, I became determined to learn as much as I could about this specialty area, and obtained my certification in sensory integration in November of 2002 at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. Prior to my certification, I helped to create a Snoezelen sensory room that was used daily by students for therapy and throughout their day to provide the sensory stimulation needed to improve regulation and awareness. With the ever-changing shift in students remaining in local districts, I decided to return back to my public school roots by accepting the position of district occupational therapist for Woodbury City Public Schools in Woodbury, NJ. With my prior knowledge of sensory integration, I saw the need for sensory rooms to service both special education and general education students. Although it was initially challenging to obtain a space for these rooms, I succeeded and received much publicity on the cover of local newspapers as well as an article in a national magazine. The most exciting result of this publicity, was the increased awareness of sensory processing issues and the need for these rooms in schools to promote learning and independence in student’s daily occupations in the school setting. I am very fortunate to have the support of my district’s administration and staff to continue to provide new programs for students and enhance our occupational therapy department with occupational therapy fieldwork placements. Although my job is challenging, I am motivated by the amazing students I work with, staff, and administration. I am blessed each day with the love and support of my husband Jerry, son Brenden and daughter Lexi.