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Special Services

Ruth Ann Dowler
Ruth Ann Dowler
Special Services Coordinator




School based Speech Language Pathologists (a.k.a. Speech Therapists) are a part of the special education team, which can also include Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, School Psychologists, among others. As part of this team, the Speech Therapist works to determine the communication needs of students throughout the district. School based Speech Therapists provide direct services to improve the student’s communication skills necessary for success in the school environment.

Speech Therapists can assess and address the following areas of communication for students in the school setting: Articulation/Speech Sounds, Receptive/Expressive Language, Fluency/Stuttering, Voice and Social Skills, as related to the student’s ability to access and be successful in their school environment with their peers. The goal of Speech Therapy is for the student to develop and learn communication skills, generalize these skills to the classroom, and then demonstrate independent use of the skills in the educational setting. Students who receive Speech Therapy in the school setting are often seen one-on-one, in small groups, or in the general education classroom.

The Speech Therapy department at Van Wert City Schools currently consists of four, state and nationally certified, Speech Therapists who work with students from the ages of 3-21 in the district.




Lee Ann Pratt

Lee Ann Pratt
(Elementary) (Middle School / High School)

Christine Kreischer

Christine Kreischer
(ECC) (Middle School / High School) (St. Mary's)

Morgan Hicks

Morgan Hicks

Danae Leaser

Danae Leaser



Van Wert City Schools has a certified Occupational Therapist, and certified Occupational Therapy Assistant who provide Occupational Therapy Services for students in the district.

The profession of Occupational Therapy is concerned with a person’s ability to participate in desired daily life activities or “occupations.”  School based therapists focus on providing strategies and recommendations for accommodations, adaptations, or modifications that develop skills to improve the student’s performance of tasks and activities important and necessary for successful school functioning. The goal of Occupational Therapy is for the student to develop and learn new skills, generalize these skills to the classroom, and then demonstrate their  highest level of independence in their school environment.

School-based occupational therapy is a related service that is available for students who are eligible for special education, under the IDEA Part B federal law. Occupational therapy services for students are determined through the ETR and IEP process.  Occupational Therapists collaborate with educational team members to identify a student’s annual goals and determine services, supports, modifications, and accommodations that are required for the student to achieve his educational goals.

The Occupational therapy evaluation can include areas such as: fine motor coordination skills, bilateral arm/hand coordination, motor planning, postural trunk control, arm/hand strength and  endurance, visual motor skills, visual perceptual skills, handwriting skills, sensory processing skills, and self-help skills as related to the student’s ability to access and be successful  in their school environment with their peers.

Occupational therapy services can be provided directly with the student on a one to one basis or in a small group. O.T. services can also be non-direct in a supportive and/or consultative role with school staff.




Janine Warnecke

Janine Warnecke OTR/L
(ECC - High School)

Jennifer Huffman

Jennifer Huffman, COTA/L
(ECC - High School, St. Mary’s, Synergy, Head Start)



School-based physical therapy is integrated into the school’s educational program as a means to enhance functioning and attain educational objectives. Physical Therapy staff can provide support to the total educational system. They can assist with problem solving to eliminate barriers that hinder access to educational environments and assist with modifications and accommodations to support students in their regular education program. The school system also provides the therapy specified on the Section 504 plan or, as deemed necessary by the team, for achievement of a student’s identified educational goals and objectives/benchmarks.

Physical Therapists (PT) and Physical Therapist Assistants (PTA) are members of the Individual Education Program (IEP) team. Physical Therapy is considered a related service within the educational plan and must have a relationship to the students’ educational performance. PT’s and PTA’s work collaboratively with the IEP team in screening, evaluating, educating staff and family, program planning and intervention. They assist in the development of gross motor skills to increase the safety and functional independence of the student within the school environment.  Gross Motor (physical) skills are those which require whole body movement and which involve the large (core stabilizing) muscles of the body to perform everyday functions, such as standing, balance, walking, running, and sitting upright. It also includes hand-eye coordination skills such as ball skills (throwing, catching & kicking).


PARENT RESOURCES (click to download):

What are Gross Motor Skills and Why are They Important in School?

Motor Planning & Sensory Motor



Lisa Knoch

Lisa Knoch, PTA
(ECC) (St. Mary's)

Jaime Gardner

Jaime Gardner, PTA
(Elementary) (Middle School / High School)