SuperStar Spotlight: Merida Kelly, Teacher & Parent Educator

We at Superplus value each and every one of our customers. From parents, to teachers, to special needs professionals, we all share the same mission: improving the lives of children with special needs. That’s why we’ve decided to honor a hard-working ambassador of our SuperSpeak app each month. This month, we’re highlighting Merida Kelly, a super teacher and parent educator who successfully funded the use of SuperSpeak in her classroom through a DonorsChoose.org campaign. We were moved and inspired by her devotion to her SuperKiddos in Pre-K at an Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland, which serves many students who live in poverty. Of her seven students, three use SuperSpeak now. Merida, here is your turn in the spotlight!

Merida, it’s super to meet you! First things first: Tell us about your work!

I love my work with my students! I work in a public preschool in the state of Maryland that is designated at a “high poverty level”. My Pre-K students are in a self-contained special education classroom due to their educational needs. Some students are on the Autism Spectrum or have developmental delays. I also am a parent educator and create seminars to educate parents about topics of interest (e.g. autism) or meet with them in the community to help them with issues they may be having with their children.

Which communication and language issues are you working with in your classroom? We’re working with language processing delays as well as expressive and receptive language delays.

What other AAC tools and communication methods have you tried, and were you satisfied?

I’ve tried Picture Exchange, Go Talk and Big Mac, but they were either too simple (Big Mac) or not engaging to the students.

What need(s) were you hoping to address when you found SuperSpeak?  

I found out about this app at an Autism conference and was intrigued by the interface and the ease of using the app. I was looking for something very easy that my staff and I could use and that I could potentially share with families to use at home.

How do you use SuperSpeak and, in your opinion, what is its most important feature?  

The best feature is the ability to add pictures with a label, sound and related images so easily. When we use visuals to support communication, the images don’t always look like the action or object. But with SuperSpeak, we choose what image to use and we can use something that is in the classroom.

How do the children in your care react to using SuperSpeak?  

They are fascinated by the app, and other students in the classroom often run over to see what the child is doing!

Where have you seen the biggest improvement since you first started using SuperSpeak? Do you have a specific scenario/story to highlight?

The student that I have been primarily using SuperSpeak with has shown more babbling and attempts at saying words or sounds associated with the items that he wants. He is also more willing to use visuals that are just on paper or in the SuperSpeak app.

During breakfast time, my student would just sit at the table and grab items but made no attempt to request the items, regardless of the visual or sign support we gave him. Using the SuperSpeak app motivated him to touch the picture of the item that he wanted and finally “tell” us!

Do you have any best practices or tips to share with people who are struggling to communicate with a student?  

Don’t get frustrated, and celebrate the small things!  

Merida, you are indeed a SuperStar! Thank you so much for supporting SuperSpeak. We wish all the best for you and your SuperKiddos!
Interested in supporting Merida Kelly and her SuperKiddos? Learn about how to support her other projects here.