A few weeks ago, Elena Flagiello saw an old student while on the street. Flagiello, a speech therapist for the School District of Philadelphia, waved her hand to say hello, but the female student didn’t recognize her.
Flagiello began to remind her.
“I said, ‘Remember, it’s Miss Fla-,’ and she said, ‘Miss Flagiello from Nebinger!”
“She went on to repeat all the teachers she had from when she entered Nebinger to when she graduated,” Flagiello said with a laugh.
Remembering people, wants and needs is exactly what Flagiello strives to teach students as a speech therapist. She visits the learning and autistic support classrooms twice a week while at Nebinger to improve students’ verbal communication abilities.
“Because there are so many different levels of language in each classroom, a lot of the times cooking is the medium in which I get a lot of language from them,” Flagiello said.
Earlier that day, Flagiello taught children how to make potato strips.
Flagiello said she continually reminds herself of the child’s ability in order to ensure success during her sessions, so adaptation is key.
“I might say, ‘What tool are we going to measure the cheese?’ but if their comprehension is such that they won’t be able to answer, I would present them with a can opener and a measuring cup and allow them to choose,” she said.
After nearly 14 years at Nebinger, Flagiello said she still faces difficulties while working with learning support classrooms. The difference now is that she’s familiar with the solutions.
“It’s kind of hard to get them working and asking for things they want and need,” she said. “I might use sabotage by saying, ‘Glue this please,’ and not give them any glue. Then if one child says, ‘I need glue,’ the others can learn and follow.”