Why Corporate Values Matter (Part 2): Serving Students with Disabilities in Schools More Effectively

In an earlier blog, I told you how transformative the corporate team here at Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) found defining our true values to be.

Female school-based occupational therapist sits at table in between students with disabilities in school who are using watercolor paints.We discovered our company is built on relationships, a fact apparent in every value we identified: 

  • Teach Everyone
  • Be/See Holistic
  • Be Intentional
  • Ease the Burden
  • Cultivate Community
  • Show Up for People
  • Collaborate to Innovate

No matter what we’re doing, whether assessing students with intellectual disabilities or training teachers in Tier 1 interventions they can provide in the classroom, these values give our work shape and substance.

When you get clarity on your program’s true values, you’ll discover you’re able to serve students with disabilities in your schools in more efficient, effective, and holistic ways.

Putting and Keeping People at Pediatric Therapy’s Heart

I’ve already discussed the first four of PTS’ core values. Now I’d like to talk a little about the last three.

5. Cultivate Community

One of our slogans is, “Be in the foxhole together!”

PTS has grown from a local company with contracts in a few counties to an organization of hundreds of therapists spread across three states. As we grew, we feared the connections between our therapists and leaders would become diluted. How could we keep the personal touch and individual support intact as numbers and distances between clients grew?

Social media has helped, especially during the recent COVID-19 school closures, as more than 400 therapists needed to get up and running with virtual therapy overnight.

PTS’ clinical directors and some of our therapists who’d been early adopters of school-based teletherapy provided Facebook Live trainings on what was working for them. How do you assess students living with intellectual disabilities when you can’t be physically face-to-face with them? How do you help students achieve their physical therapy goals when you can’t provide them with the literal hands-on support they’re used to receiving? Dozens of therapists shared ideas for making online treatment more effective and fun!  

As beneficial as Facebook Groups and our online team resource site are, nothing completely substitutes getting together in person. Social events where therapists can meet, laugh about our crazy profession, and enjoy one another’s company are priceless. From happy hours to professional development trainings, our group meetings help us grow both professionally and personally.

Our active Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) and clinical mentor programs are other ways our team connects. Practitioners glean more wisdom about pediatric therapy from more seasoned therapists than they do from books or university courses. 

Good old-fashioned manners also help cultivate community:

  • Always provide personal service.
  • Adhere to high work ethics.
  • Demonstrate loyalty to your colleagues.
  • Be considerate of co-workers, whether sharing a sensory room or a too-small office.
  • Assume the best.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt, always.

6. Show Up for People 

Being physically and mentally present as we engage with our therapists and our clients matters. They know we’ll be there to help them put out little fires at school before they become big blazes.

When administrators who’ve worked with PTS move to another district we don’t serve, one of the first things they do is reach out to us to say, “I need you here! It’s too hard without you!”

We’ve also implemented rules at management meetings to encourage being fully present. For example, we don’t have smartphones and computers out during meetings. And when we need leaders and point people, we expect ourselves to step up and take responsibility.

We expect the same service mentality from our therapy teams. Being a related service provider means we serve others with kindness, thoughtfulness, and the best of who we are.

PTS also shows up for people through our volunteer work with schools and students with disabilities in developing countries. In the past 12 years, PTS has visited five countries, trained hundreds of teachers, and impacted tens of thousands of students in places without related service providers. 

Female school-based therapist wears headset and sits at laptop computer to share teletherapy ideas with her colleagues.7. Collaborate to Innovate 

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in building this business, it’s that life is full of infinite possibilities. We’re not satisfied with the status quo, and you shouldn’t be either. Thinking small is so last year!

It’s not just the corporate team that drives innovation. The biggest, best ideas at PTS come out of the brainstorming that happens when we put a bunch of super-gifted clinicians in the room and give them a problem to solve.

Maybe it’s how to make accommodations for students with disabilities when there’s simply no money in the program budget for the specialized equipment clinicians would usually turn to first. Or maybe it’s finding acceptable ways to assess a student’s intellectual disabilities when parents who see a stigma in “special ed” are reluctant to give permission. 

Whatever the situation, our therapists constantly bring new ways to support students, teachers, and families to our schools, turning the buildings into little laboratories. Some of our most successful program supports grew organically out of an effort to solve a problem happening in one class at one school.

Innovation is the fuel of our fire. And new “good ideas” become great when we collaborate and refine them as a team.

PTS Can Help You Better Serve Students with Disabilities in Your Schools

Serving and supporting students with special needs is among the most challenging and rewarding forms of education. But it’s next to impossible to do it well if you haven’t clarified why you do what you do.

I hope this closer look at PTS’ values has excited you about exploring your own with your program’s staff. I’m confident you’ll find the time well-spent and the experience as transformative as we did!

If you’d like our help identifying your program’s values and discerning whether they’re helping you do as much good for your students as possible, call us at 610-941-7020 or contact us online.

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