Inspiring a Confident Voice in Students

Interview with Jeannette Washington, Speech-Language & Literacy Specialist and Owner of Bearly Articulating.

Born with the “gift of gab,” Jeannette Washington, M.Ed doesn’t have trouble expressing her passions and career goals. As a formally-trained speech therapist, she wanted to bring the power of communication to students for whom self-expression doesn’t come so easily. Her dedication to the field of language-based learning disorders led to her opening her own business that allows her the opportunity to help students who have unique educational needs to discover their own gifts.

curriculum development for special needs students - quote from Jeanette Washington

Washington earned her Bachelors of Science in Communicative Disorders from Jackson State University, after which she served as a speech therapist in a local school district. Pursuing a graduate degree to gain licensure in her field proved to be a bigger challenge, however; she later earned a Masters of Education in Curriculum & Instruction of Language-Based Learning Disorders from Southern New Hampshire University. As further testament to her knowledge and experience, Washington is pursuing certification to become an Academic Language Practitioner through the Academic Language and Therapy Association and the International Multi-Sensory Structured Education Council. She currently holds the role of CEO and Speech-Language & Literacy Specialist at Bearly Articulating, her company devoted to supporting learners with ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, language-based learning disabilities, and other disorders.

Jeannette Washington, M.Ed demonstrates her enthusiasm and expertise not just at the helm of Bearly Articulating, but through her speaking and publishing efforts. She is published in Technical Preparedness, Loving Learning, and Competitive Test-Taking, as well as Supporting Students With Hearing Impairments. She has presented at industry conferences and symposiums and was the recipient of the Ronald E. McNair Scholar Post-Baccalaureate Award and the National Engaged Leader Award.

Enjoy our interview with Jeannette Washington to learn more about her motivation behind Bearly Articulating, as well as her passion for helping differently-abled students speak up for their dreams and ambitions. 

GradSchools: Tell us about your background in education and what inspired you to start your company, Bearly Articulating.

Bearly Articulating is the result of many doors closing and the realization that there is always a window. I am a formally trained speech-language therapist and I have always had a gift of gab. After college I was able to work in a local school district providing articulation therapy. While working I applied to graduate school so that I could eventually gain a license/certification in the field but I was denied by multiple schools because of factors that weren’t necessary indicative of my passion for the field of speech-language therapy. Shortly after my tumultuous fails, licensing issues unfolded at the district I was employed at so I became unemployed. During unemployment, I decided to seek admission into a dyslexia and language-based disorders curriculum and instruction program and was accepted. After graduating with my master’s degree I began my labor of love which is of course Bearly Articulating.

GradSchools: What does Bearly Articulating do? What makes your company unique?

Bearly Articulating provides multi-sensory speech-language and literacy tutoring, college planning, curriculum design, and professional development. These services support the unique educational needs of learners struggling in reading, writing, spelling, speaking, and other scholastic aspects of formal education. Bearly Articulating specializes in exceptional learners who are identified with mild to moderate disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, expressive writing disabilities, dyslexia, language-based learning disabilities, and much more. We are unique because we are passionate about working collaboratively with parents, educators, and related professionals to develop comprehensive intervention programs to support writing, math, science, listening, comprehension receptive, and expressive language across multiple environments.

GradSchools: What sparked your interest in helping students with educational needs? How did you come to specialize in speech or language-based issues?

I believe that I was born to serve. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t excited to volunteer time or money into serving disadvantaged or underprovided populations. Conversely, speech and language always came so easy to me because I’m a closeted bookworm. Being unable to express oneself is absolutely frustrating and I try to make it less frustrating for those who have trouble with this natural function.

GradSchools: You help students with a wide range of issues. What, if anything, do these students have in common? Is there a common approach to curriculum development for every student, regardless of his or her unique needs?

These students all want to be given a real chance. Not a chance to do what everyone else can but the opportunity to strut their abilities, despite their disabilities. Educators must provide these students with opportunities for success. Celebrate their differences. The most common approach to curriculum development is to use a multisensory approach. Using a multisensory approach means helping learners through the use of more than one sense. This stimulates learners by engaging them on multiple levels. Not to mention, including students in their own learning process (allowing students to assess themselves), modeling expectations, thoroughly breaking down information and setting clear standards.

GradSchools: You are currently pursuing certification to become an Academic Language Practitioner. What is an Academic Language Practitioner, and how will it help your students?

Becoming certified as an academic language practitioner gives me a stamp of universal recognition as a highly qualified specialist who has met uniform standards of professional post-baccalaureate education. The credentials will assure the public and other professionals of my competence, integrity, and professionalism.

GradSchools: What is the hardest part of working with exceptional students?

Plainly put, if you don’t have patience, you may need to execute plan B.

GradSchools: What do you find most rewarding about your career?

It is most rewarding to see how the students light up when they see you and even more so when they start to gain comprehension of a specific element or topic. By the same token, it is quite rewarding when students lose their training wheels (so to speak) and become more independent in their scholastic endeavors by using recall and metacognition.

GradSchools: What advice do you have for education student who are interested in the curriculum development process? What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

Learn, grow, and be committed to life-long learning, as this field is constantly evolving. Don’t be afraid of your ideas; some may think that they are crazy but they might be crazy enough to work.

GradSchools: Tell us about the advantages of private practice, as opposed to working for a school or district.

With a private practice I have creative freedom. I am able to seek school contracts, set-up as a vendor at conferencing events, collaborate with companies that I desire to, and schedule time to refuel. The proverbial ball is always in my court. 

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