Support Services

  • label American Sign Language (ASL)

    Tearra Donovan serves as our American Sign Language (ASL) Teacher. Using the National ASL Standards, Tearra instructs students in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Department supporting the development of age-appropriate ASL skills and knowledge. She uses assessments to determine gaps in knowledge and plans the next steps for student learning. She also assists in developing our corpus of ASL and Deaf Culture materials and resources for staff and students.

    • Tearra Donovan can be reached at 406-564-1523.
  • label Audiology

    Kathy Johnson serves as the MSDB Audiologist. For all students who attend MSDB, she provides audiology services including annual audiological assessments; medical monitoring related to hearing, amplification recommendations, and amplification and technology recommendations and troubleshooting and repair of equipment. She participates in IEP meetings with recommendations related to communication accommodations and development and monitoring of any goals related to auditory skill development. She collaborates with the Speech and Language Pathologist and with Teachers in providing audiology intervention services to MSDB campus students.

    For the greater community, Kathy can provide audiology services to any Montana infant or child free of charge. Referrals come from families, school districts, physicians, Speech and Language Pathologists, and/or Outreach Consultants. She provides diagnostic evaluations and audiological counseling to students and families. Working with Outreach Consultants, Kathy assists public school district staff and families in understanding the impact of a hearing loss on a child’s development, auditory access, and education.

    She collaborates with Hearing Conservation Program Audiologists, the Outreach Consulting Audiologist and/or Outreach Consultants in ensuring appropriate audiological services are provided to Outreach students.

  • label Behavior Specialist

    Yvette Smail serves as our Behavior Specialist. She works directly with students in 1:1 situations and small group sessions. When students need more support than short-term counseling and interventions, Yvette works with providers in the community and with the family to get support for the student. She works with staff and families in the development, implementation, and monitoring of Functional Behavior Assessments as needed. She provides in-class support to students and staff to model and ensure a positive, safe, learning environment.

    Yvette works in the Education Program and is available to provide training and support to Student Life Staff as needed. This ensures consistency in behavior expectations between programs.

    Yvette spearheads the school-wide Intervention Team and the Anti-Bullying Program the MSDB – Olweus. She provides school-wide programs related to social and emotional development for students. She is the MSDB Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) trainer for staff. She assists with classroom behavior management strategies as well as self-regulation strategies, mindfulness techniques, conflict resolution, and problem solving.

    • Yvette Smail can be reached at 406-771-6041 (voice) or 406-205-0007 (videophone).
  • label Interpreters

    MSDB employs Interpreters to provide services for MSDB students who are deaf or hard of hearing and attending classes in our partner schools in the Great Falls Public Schools. Interpreters facilitate communication between students who are deaf or hard of hearing and their classroom teachers, hearing peers, and other school staff in the public schools. MSDB Interpreters use the Inverted Pyramid of Responsibility in providing support to students in mainstream classes. Interpreters are a member of the student’s IEP team and can participate in the student’s IEP meeting.

    Interpreters prepare for mainstream classes by learning specific subject vocabulary, reviewing lesson plans provided by the teacher, pre-reading materials, and previewing audio or non-captioned video materials.

    Interpreters are continually learning through professional development opportunities.

    Interpreters are also assigned to interpret for students who participate in extra-curricular activities and events in the public schools. Students learn how to request Interpreter Services for these extra-curricular activities and events.

    Interpreters in the state of Montana are required to attain a score of 3.5 or higher within three years of hire on the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) and pass the written portion of the EIPA per Administrative Rules of Montana – 10.55.178, ARM. This score is the minimum score to be obtained. Many MSDB Interpreters also hold National Certification through the Registry of Interpreters (RID) for the Deaf.

    • Sheryl Lute can be reached at 406-771-6075 (voice) or 406-205-0004 (videophone).
  • label Occupational Therapy (OT)

    Stephanie Annis serves as MSDB’s full-time Occupational Therapist. Based on an OT evaluation and an IEP team decision about OT services, Stephanie can address functional needs such as fine motor skills, visual-perceptual skills, sensory skills, or self-help skills necessary for the student to participate in the educational environment. OT services may be in 1:1 pull-out environments, in collaboration with another therapist such as Physical Therapy or Speech and Language Therapy, or within the classroom environment. Stephanie consults with Classroom Teachers, Paraeducators, Support Staff, and Student Life Staff to model interventions and expectations to ensure consistency for the student across educational environments.

    • Stephanie Annis can be reached at 406-771-6101 (voice) or 406-205-8573 (videophone).
  • label Orientation and Mobility (O&M)

    Geri Darko serves as MSDB’s Orientation and Mobility Specialist. Being able to orient oneself to the environment and being able to travel safely and independently are the main goals of O&M. Geri provides training in using the white cane, which allows students who are blind or visually impaired to travel safely and confidently. She focuses on safe travel techniques including negotiating steps, stairs, and curbs; navigating home, school, and cottage environments; navigating public spaces and potential employment sites; as well as planning travel routes, crossing streets, and using public transportation.

    Geri works with Classroom Teachers, Paraeducators, Support Staff, Student Life Staff, and sometimes families to model interventions and expectations to ensure safety and consistency for the student across home and educational environments.

    • Geri Darko can be reached at 406-771-6010.
  • label Physical Therapy (PT)

    Laurie McRae serves as MSDB’s full-time Physical Therapist. Based on a PT evaluation and an IEP team decision about PT services, Laurie works with students who have physical disabilities to improve developmental skills, strength, endurance, balance, coordination, flexibility, and mobility for the student to participate in the educational environment. PT services may be in 1:1 pull-out environments, in collaboration with another therapist such as Occupational Therapy, or within the classroom environment. Laurie consults with Classroom Teachers, Paraeducators, Support Staff, and Student Life Staff to model interventions and expectations as well as safety techniques in working with the student to ensure safety and consistency across educational environments.

    • Laurie McRae can be reached at 406-771-6014 (voice) or 406-205-8572 (videophone).
  • label School Counseling

    Trudy Hill serves as MSDB’s School Counselor. Trudy’s training and licensure has prepared her to support students with personal/social concerns; guide students as they explore their post high school options including college, technical training, and employment; and advocate for students’ academic successes. She works closely with the Behavior Specialist and the School Psychologist in developing school-wide programs, which enhances the school climate and builds positive relationships. She communicates and collaborates regularly with the Student Life Staff to establish and maintain comprehensive delivery of services.

    • Trudy Hill can be reached at 406-771-6053.
  • label School Psychologist

    Chris Gutschenritter serves as our School Psychologist. She co-coordinates the intake process for students who are referred by their Local Education Agency or Part C Provider to MSDB for placement. She conducts cognitive, social emotional, adaptive behavior, and academic testing as needed. Chris consults with School and Student Life staff as well as families to find appropriate supports for learning and/or behavior interventions. She meets with students 1:1 and in small groups to further support their social and emotional learning. She serves on IEP teams and on the School Intervention Team.

    • Chris Gutschenritter can be reached at 406-771-6006 (voice) or 406-205-0013 (videophone).
  • label Speech and Language Therapy

    Sherri Widhalm serves as MSDB’s full-time Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP). Based on Speech and/or English language assessments and the IEP team decision about SLP Services, Sherri works with students on English vocabulary, writing, sound and speech production including breath quality and control, and pragmatics of the English language. She works closely with the other Support Specialists and with Teachers in meeting students’ English language and communication needs.

    School-based SLPs are professionally trained to prevent, screen, identify and assess speech disorders, and provide intervention for students with disorders in articulation, phonology, fluency, voice, language, cognitive communication, and swallowing as well as counsel and educate families and/or professionals about these disorders and their management. Service delivery options may include therapy done in a traditional manner (pull-out therapy), in a classroom, in a non-academic setting (e.g. lunch room, playground), in the community as part of transition services or job coaching, or on a consultative basis. Ultimately the SLP’s purpose in addressing communication and related disorders is to improve the functional cognitive communication status so that the student may participate as fully as possible in all aspects of life – educational, social, and vocational.

    • Sherri Widhalm can be reached at 406-771-6043.