Staff Spotlight

Staff Spotlight ~ Mrs. K
Posted on 10/20/2017
Employee Spotlight ~
Debra Kosboski ~Speech Therapist, Carney Academy

Debra Kosboski first reported to work at New Bedford Public Schools in September 1977 and went under contract in January 1978 as a Speech Therapist. A month later, the Blizzard of ’78 paralyzed the Northeast. “It was a nightmare,” she recalled in a recent interview for Employee Spotlight. “It took me eight hours to get to my home in the north end of New Bedford in my little Volkswagen from Taylor School where I worked.” The years are crowded with memories. Deb also worked at Ottiwell School, and the new Hayden-McFadden School.
“Could I retire? Yes; but I love what I do,” she admits with an engaging smile. Her students, seated at a low round table where she works with them, reciprocate with broad smiles shining back at her. Deb vividly recalls the years gone by and the young lives she’s helped along the way.

How did your career at NBPS begin and how has it evolved over the years?
“A language based classroom at the new Pulaski School was opening and I was asked if I would be interested, having also a degree in teaching. I said yes and began working with children diagnosed predominantly with dyslexia. And today, do I think some of the children placed in my class at the time, in retrospect, were in the high level of the autism spectrum? Yes, I do. But it seemed to me that the one common factor they all had was reading difficulty. So then my focus turned more toward reading. I developed a passion for reading through a phonetic based reading program called Wilson. I stayed in the classroom 18 years but I wanted to continue to focus in on my language based learning kids, so I came back to speech therapy – to Carney, a school that I worked at early on in my career.”

What classes do you work with now?

“I work with the integrated preschool, sub-separate classrooms, Kindergarten. The majority of kids that I service are kids with ASD (Autism diagnoses). Because I developed that passion for reading I became more interested in phonemic awareness, phonics, and how it pertains to preschool, kindergarten, and first grade, and so I went for training in a program called Lively Letters. It’s differentiated instruction so that when I go into the preschool classroom for lessons, I find that my students automatically pick their mode of how the learning works for them, because Lively Letters uses mnemonic cueing, imagery and music. And I connect my speech therapy to the curriculum within the preschool, because they’re introducing sound-symbol relationships, so what better way than to incorporate my articulation – that is, how to make the sounds correctly – into the instruction, working as a team. And we do work as a team every day.”

Can you elaborate on how your work in speech therapy is part of that team effort?
“Since I’ve been at Carney, I’ve worked with the integrated preschool with children with autism. I see them progress from day to day. Working within that differentiated instruction in the programs, I can watch my children on the spectrum stand right to the side of that typical child and demonstrate the same skill – they leave with the same skill – that sound-symbol relationship; they can segment and blend CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant). We get them there. Most all of it’s the support I get from the team and from our Principal, Karen Treadup. For example, she bought kits for all of preschool and Kindergarten. I wouldn’t see that success if the teachers didn’t implement those lessons on a daily basis. We are a great team! Our Preschool staff includes Deborah Gomes, Lynne Cotter, Linda Chouinard and Jena Pina. And our Kindergarten staff includes Jessica Silva and Karen Demers, with Karen leading the team. I can’t say enough about all the support they provide.”

With 40 years of service in the district, you’re the epitome of professional longevity. How do people react to that feat?
“People always ask me, “Why are you still here?” I answer it’s because I love it. I see my work this way: Every student I’ve serviced has my last name. They are mine. Also, a big piece of this work is not only establishing a connection with my students, but with the parents. That’s big. But you have to work to develop those connections every day.”