Educator Discovers Skill For Her Practice in Educational Therapy Program


- Patrice McElligott

Term : October, 2016
Department : Education
Program : Educational Therapy

As an educator with 20 years of experience as a teacher, tutor and coach, Patrice McElligott advocates for her students’ needs, regardless of the environment. After obtaining her Clear Multiple Subject and Special Education credentials, she completed a master’s in special education, which allowed her to focus on students with learning differences. She discovered her passion for providing one-on-one support and leaped at the opportunity to go into business with an established educational therapist. She wanted to expand her knowledge of educational therapy practices as she made this a full-time career. She enrolled in UCSC Extension’s Educational Therapy program in 2015 to learn more and become an expert in the field.

What made you decide to pursue educational therapy?

As an educator, I didn’t see kids’ needs being adequately addressed in the classroom. These kids who learn differently needed exposure to various strategies to really access the curriculum. I thoroughly enjoyed working in special education when I felt like I could really address my students’ needs, so much so that I wanted to be able to work with individuals full-time. I enjoy collaborating with families and other allied professionals. I find it especially satisfying to help each child understand their unique style of learning through a strength-based approach. When I was offered the opportunity to join an established educational therapy practice, I thought “Why not?” I have a great mentor and work in a small practice, so we have the benefit of learning from each other.

Another passion I intend to focus on as an educational therapist is to educate parents, school districts and the general population about learning differences and how accommodations are about equal access. I’m thrilled to see universal access in the classroom but sometimes that isn’t enough. Just because a student is performing at grade level and is not a behavior issue, doesn’t mean that child isn’t possibly masking a learning difference and is struggling internally.

What attracted you to UCSC Extension’s program?

One of my colleagues told me about the program, and after doing my own research, found UCSC Extension was flexible, nearby and reasonably priced. I wanted to learn more about running an educational therapy business, and I was excited to see that you offer classes in assessment. There are benefits to becoming a Certified Educational Therapist through the Association of Educational Therapy as well, because it helps you expand your network and show that you are an expert in your field. This program is one step toward that.

How have you been able to apply new skills at work?

I’ve absolutely applied skills from all of my classes in my practice. The “Management of Clinical Practice” class was helpful because I’m developing my own business. My “Techniques of Educational Therapy: Affective, Cognitive and Perceptual Elements” class introduced techniques from the occupational therapy perspective, which I hadn’t really considered but find it makes a lot of sense. The “Assessment for Educational Therapists, Practicum” was especially beneficial because students often come with extensive reports. I’ve learned how to read and interpret these reports and have started performing a few on my own.

All of my classes have been extremely useful, in part because I’ve gotten the chance to meet so many different people with various experiences and unique perspectives in the field. I’m excited to soon take the “Adaptive Technologies” and “Executive Functioning” classes as well. I love that I’m constantly learning!

Visit our Educational Therapy page to learn more about UCSC Extension’s unique offerings.

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