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Communication boards give many young MFISD students a voice

Communication boards at Marble Falls ISD

Marble Falls Independent School District hearing-impaired specialist Julie Skero (front row, left) stands with speech language pathologists Shelley Tennyson, Rita Piotrowski, Jeni Mattox, Desi McCormick (back, left) and Amanda Bowen by one of two communication boards at Colt Elementary School. The second board is located on the other playground. Courtesy photo

Marble Falls elementary students who struggle with communication now have help thanks to some creative thinking by educators.

All four of Marble Falls Independent School District’s elementary campus playgrounds have “communication boards,” which feature icons that students can point to to convey what they want or need, whether that’s a drink, a bathroom break, or even someone to push them on the swing.

The communication-challenged student brings the peer or teacher to the boards and identifies what they need, said MFISD hearing-impaired specialist Julie Skero.

“It’s working, it’s great,” she added.

Skero, along with other speech language pathologists, created the boards because they knew other districts had used them effectively. Skero and the other specialists teach the students how to use the boards and icons.

“So they can communicate with peers,” Skero said. “They’re used to seeing the icons in speech therapy. The pictures relate to physical things so we can help them.”

Skero received funding for the boards through the Marble Falls Education Foundation’s Grants for Great Ideas.

The funding paid for two boards each at Colt Elementary School, Marble Falls Elementary School, and Highland Lakes Elementary School, and one at Spicewood Elementary School.

Skero struggled to put into words how it feels to see all students have a voice.

“If we give them a way, it can happen,” she said. “It’s absolutely so special to see. They can use pictures to communicate. It’s great. We hope it’s something that will last a lifetime and help these kiddos be better communicators. I feel the power of language and the power of communication within that student. When you see the lightbulb come on, it’s hard to describe.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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