Christina Peterson: Speech and language pathologist
Benner and Marion-Walker elementary schools
When Christina Peterson isn’t in school, the longtime district speech and language pathologist enjoys a different kind of communication – music, specifically alternative and class rock. Calling Mr. Greengenes her favorite cover band, she also enjoys going to concerts and collecting vinyl albums, starting with about nine Beatles records.
But by day, she can be found at Benner and Marion-Walker elementary schools working with up to 65 students on her caseload – something that is about average each year.
“It is rewarding,” Peterson said. “We work with an iPad that can track data, and you can follow a student’s progress. Maybe they got only 50 of 110 sounds correct when they first came to see me in kindergarten and by the time they’re in fifth grade, they only have five sound errors. I’m like, ‘wow!’ They were completely unintelligible before, and it’s rewarding to also hear parents say other family members can now understand (their child).”
Speech and language are separated into parts – speech, which includes articulation, voice and fluency; and language, which includes vocabulary and grammar skills. A majority of students, Peterson said, make incorrect sounds through sound substitutions or omission of sounds. But for either issue, it begins with bringing it to the student’s attentions, followed by strategies to correct it. The goal by the time the student enters middle school is to improve, so they may not need services beyond fifth-grade. However, there is also a speech and language pathologist at Bellefonte Area Middle School, when needed.
Peterson started at Bellefonte Area School District in December of 2003 after graduating with a bachelor and master’s degree from Clarion University. During school, she also went through two externships with placements at a hospital and school district. Calling her time in the school “a positive experience,” she added that what she enjoys most is being in the setting.
She’s also working on her doctorate degree with the hopes to defend her dissertation in August.
A DuBois native who now lives in State College with her husband and two sons, Peterson said she enjoys spending time with her family, practicing mindfulness and baking. She said her oldest son Dante, 11, is big into baseball and Anthony, 8, is involved in the Scouts. By affiliation though her husband John, she calls herself a Penn State football fan and does what she can to keep up with sports, so she can better relate to students she works with at school.
*By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD