About Debra Em
About Debra Em...
Dr. Debra Em Wilson is the Founder of S’cool Moves and a graduate from the University of Southern Queensland Professional Studies Research Program. Her dissertation uncovered attributes of successful collaboration between occupational therapists and general education teachers working together in the classroom environment.
She is a Reading Specialist who possesses teaching credentials in the areas of biology, physical education, multiple subjects, and reading and language specialist. Debra has taught at the college, high school, and elementary levels.
Debra consults with districts, focusing on collaboration between support staff and teachers. For fifteen years, her workshops have provided evidence-based strategies to support all students in the classroom. She is the author of numerous books and instructional materials integrating therapy techniques with academic standards. Debra’s experience as the mother of a child with special needs enhances her understanding of children who learn differently and have a difficult time fitting in with their peers.
View Curriculum Vitae here.
THIS ALL BEGAN VERY PERSONALLY FOR ME
My life changed in deep and meaningful ways when my daughter, Shalea, came into the world. You can read more about her story here. Shalea's profound physical and cognitive challenges put me on a mission of research and study that has led to equally profound discoveries that I love to share with others. In my journey to help Shalea, I was introduced to occupational and physical therapy techniques that were very effective with her.
At this time, I was a reading specialist in a California school district. Being over the moon by my daughter's progress, I tried incorporating some of the principles I'd learned from Shalea's therapist with my students who were not progressing as I'd hoped. The measured growth was surprising and remarkable—the light was turned on, in me! With passion ignited, I knew what I would be doing for the rest of my life. That was over eighteen years ago. Through years of continued research and development, S'cool Moves has grown and evolved to bring you proven products and services that can truly make a difference in the lives of the children you serve. You are the front lines. I want to be your backup. Please take a few moments and learn more about S'cool Moves, our workshops, and materials.
WE ALL HAVE EXPECTATIONS
When you chose teaching or therapy as your career, you expected to positively impact the lives of your students by applying your unique skills set to help solve the challenges your students face daily. Whether your students experience difficulties managing their behavior, keeping up with their peers academically, or just finding a kindred spirit, you chose your career because you care about children.
I, too, had expectations. When I began teaching high school biology students, I expected they would be able to manage their behavior, focus, and be able to read their textbooks. With fifty percent of my students unable to meet my expectations, I drove two hours each way to California State University, Fresno, to participate in courses focusing on how to teach reading. These courses eventually led to my earning a Masters Degree in Education with a clinical reading specialty.
When I began my new high school teaching position working with students reading between the first and third grade levels, I applied what I had learned and expected to propel my students to the head of the class. I felt like Tom Cruise, in Top Gun, full of confidence and fire. It was a slow climb. You might even say that I stalled out in mid-air. I felt like something was still missing from my teaching tool bag. I thought maybe I would find the answers by teaching elementary students.
Leaving high school teaching, I accepted a site literacy position at an elementary school. I expected to be able to make a bigger impact by working with younger children. Again, my students made progress, but it was slow and some remained in the bottom quarter no matter what I tried.
One day, something happened that changed everything.
My first born child, Shalea, came into this world and every expectation I had as a young mother went flying out the window (along with my What to Expect books). From her birth trauma, to feeding her with an eye dropper because she didn’t have a suck reflex, to failure to thrive; I never anticipated that having a new baby girl would include many instances of my crying in a puddle on the floor. None of my expectations as a parent came true. Nothing was working.
Sometimes in our classrooms, we can feel like this…nothing is working.
Then, as fate would have it, I met Margot Heiniger-White, an occupational therapist whose expertise and caring impacted our lives in unexpectedly profound ways. I began doing Margot’s therapy program with Shalea. The results we experienced at home were astounding, so I decided to try out some of the suggestions at school with my students who were not progressing as I’d hoped.
Again, the unexpected took me by surprise. The therapy techniques I was applying with Shalea, began yielding promising results with my students as well.
With my daughter and my students making consistent, positive gains, and test scores on the rise at school, visitors began observing me work with my students. The demand became greater than I could take on at school, so the S’cool Moves program was put into writing and today is recognized for its ability to enhance collaboration between general education teachers and support staff.
My passion for the power of collaboration led me to seek a deeper knowledge of this powerful tool. While raising two teens and running S’cool Moves, I went on to earn my doctorate through the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. (My full dissertation focusing on successful collaboration between general education teachers and occupational therapists is available here).
It’s S’cool Moves deepest commitment to you to provide information and materials that make your job easier while increasing student success. Like you, it is our desire for all children to ultimately become happy lifelong learners who work and contribute to society. In keeping with this, S’cool Moves also provides jobs for adults with disabilities because we know that the single most important expectation they have is to work.
Thank you for visiting our site. I look forward to hearing from you and… thanks for all you do for children.