Kent State prof is a cover girl

Elizabeth Rund

Early childhood faculty member gets recognition for speech research

When Kent State professor Kristie Pretti-Frontczak was contacted by Advance magazine, she was surprised.

“I didn’t realize it was a national magazine,” she said.

Pretti-Frontczak, an associate professor in early childhood intervention, was the subject of an article titled “Constructing and IEP: six steps to success” in the speech-language pathology and audiology trade magazine.

Pretti-Fronczak was contacted by Advanced after lecturing about individualized education plans at the annual Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention.

“It’s about time,” said Melody Tankersley, the interim departmental chair of the Educational Foundation and Special Services and professor of special education. “It is thrilling to know that she is getting the recognition she has long deserved.”

Pretti-Frontczak’s page resume includes books, journals and research credits. She has been a part of various presentations and conventions on subjects such as measuring the quality of intervention plans, interactions and events in early childhood special education programs and preparing teachers for inclusive early childhood education.

Though a large amount of her time is devoted to IEP – or Individualized Education Plan – training and curriculum framework research, Pretti-Fronczak is one of a handful of professors who teach a doctoral seminar on college teaching and another doctoral seminar on grant writing.

“She’s like the Energizer Bunny, she’s always going,” said Richard Cowan, coordinator of the psychology program in the school of Educational Foundations and Special Services.

Both Cowan and Tankersley have worked with Pretti-Frontczak on various projects. Cowan worked with Pretti-Frontczak on the Behavioral Intervention Specialist Program. Cowan said the program trains graduate students to be behavioral consultants in schools.

Pretti-Frontczak’s main focus area is teaching others how to assess the needs of children from birth to age 8 and work with those children to make sure their needs are being met. But she often lectures about, and is involved in, helping school districts perfect the IEP.

The subject of Pretti-Frontczak’s lecture, for which she was recognized, had to do with trying to balance the spirit and intent of the individualized education plans while providing the student with the help he or she needs.

IEP’s are for children, teens and young adults between the ages 3 to 21 who qualify for special education services within their state or school district.

Pretti-Frontczak said that there are six steps schools follow to create an IEP:

• Create a common vision of the future

• Establish the child’s present level of performance

• Identify the needs of the child

• Set goals for the child and track their progress

• Define the specific services the child needs

• Identify the least restrictive environment

After identifying the needs of the child, the intervention team can use the IEP as a guide to determine what services the child needs to be able to participate in the general curriculum.

If a school does not meet these standards, then Pretti-Frontczak can come in and work with the school district to iron out the problems.

Pretti-Frontczak added that she is qualified to help with early education in school districts nationally and through high school in Ohio.

Through her work with various school districts, Pretti-Frontczak noticed that many have similar problems.

“People struggle with writing measurable goals,” she said.

Pretti-Frontczak said that sometimes schools try to set goals that don’t match up with the student’s problems. For instance, if a child can’t make friends the goal shouldn’t be to ace the next test. There must be continuity through the IEP steps in order for the child to improve.

She helps them connect the problems to the goals as well as help promote access, participation and progress of the student in the general curriculum.

Pretti-Frontczak said that being able to collaborate with other professionals in the field could improve the quality of the program and how it helps children reach their goals.

Cowan and Tankersley both agreed that she has a lens that focuses her work on helping children with disabilities and reaching out to other professionals.

“She is so amazing and energized; she gives so much to the community,” Cowan said.

“Behavior doesn’t happen in a bubble,” he said. “It’s important that everyone works together.”

Special education covers a wide range of topics and disciplines, and it was an honor to speak to that population Pretti-Frontczak said.

“We have some common tasks we can accomplish and we can work together to accomplish them,” she said.

Contact college of education, health and human services reporter Elizabeth Rund at [email protected].