Local news, local politics and community events for West St. Louis County Missouri.
34 I February 14, 2018 WEST NEWSMAGAZINE Susan Mathis Chief Executive Officer Susan Mathis, RN, MSN, is the chief executive officer of CenterPointe Hospital, a state-of-the-art high-quality mental health and addiction treatment facility for adults, senior adults and adolescents. Prior to being promoted in 2016 to her current position, Susan was in the chief operating officer role at CenterPointe from 2005 to 2015. Susan earned a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing and a master’s degree in nursing from Saint Louis University. For the past 25 years, Susan has spent her career in the behavioral health field. She has held behavioral health senior leadership positions in prestigious organizations. She is regarded as an innovative and effective leader and change agent with excellent interpersonal and communications skills. Susan is highly skilled in motivating and mentoring management teams and staff to achieve objectives and results. She has demonstrated flexibility and success in the challenging and ever-changing healthcare environment and has used her expertise to make CenterPointe Hospital a leader in behavioral health treatment. “CenterPointe Hospital is committed to serving the mental health and addiction needs of our communities,” said Susan, “and we continually strive to meet the needs of our patients and families during their time of crisis in a caring and professional environment.” With her history of proven success, under Susan’s leadership CenterPointe Hospital will continue to provide a level of comprehensive care unmatched by private treatment centers in the region. BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SYSTEM 4801 Weldon Spring Parkway • St. Charles (800) 345-5407 (Toll Free) (636) 477-2136 (Admissions) www.CenterPointeHospital.com Chesterfield resident Tami Barnes is the director of sales and marketing for Oasis Senior Advisors. As a free service, she guides seniors and their families in finding independent, assisted and memory care living as well as respite care services. The dedicated and compassionate Senior Living Advisors have extensive knowledge about senior living options in the area and work with seniors and their loved ones to find the “right place.” They provide hands-on service with personal meetings to discuss specific needs; they prepare a refined list of living areas to match each client’s unique profile and they accompany clients on tours of communities. Tami understands both the emotional and financial aspects of finding senior housing and she has made it her mission to positively impact families during a difficult time in their lives. The never-ending choices and costs associated with assisted living options can be overwhelming. “I can help people find the perfect place for their loved one,” Tami said. “Seniors have contributed so much to society. They deserve this greatly needed service and attention.” Call today to learn how Tami and her professional staff of senior advisors can help your loved one find the perfect oasis... because the right place means everything. Tami Barnes Director of Sales and Marketing 17295 Chesterfield Airport Road • Chesterfield (636) 893-4194 firstname.lastname@example.org www.chesterfield.oasissenioradvisors.com By JIM ERICKSON The Chesterfield City Council has decided to proceed with updating its master plan for city parks and has approved a new location for the city’s community garden. The council earlier had delayed acting on the parks master plan project despite having approved funds for it in 2017. Concerns centered on the cost, whether the updating was needed and the view that the work could be handled by city staff. In a subsequent report, Tom McCarthy, Chesterfield’s director of parks, recreation and arts, explained that while having a master plan is not essential to receiving municipal park grants, having one enhances the city’s score when applying for St. Louis County funds. Although budgeted funds for the project were not used in 2017, projected expenditures again were used in developing the 2018 budget. No additional funding or appropriation is being requested. McCarthy noted that master plans are complex; therefore, it is cost-effective to use an experienced consulting firm rather than hire additional staff for the job. Councilmember Ben Keathley [Ward 2] said his thoughts on the project had changed since 2017. The cost of a master plan isn’t cheap but it’s much less than what the city @WESTNEWSMAG WESTNEWSMAGAZINE.COM Chesterfield moves ahead with parks master plan, approves garden site WILDWOOD, from page 11 ing the appointment of officers, boards commissions and committees, has raised concerns, particularly among members of the We Are Wildwood group. Ward 6 resident Bill Kennedy, a member of We Are Wildwood, said in an email to West Newsmagazine that the proposed appointments are “back-door politics at its worst.” Kennedy said, “The fear is that he [Bowlin] will appoint people who will push through his chosen legislation before the citizens get to choose their representatives [in the April election].” According to Rull, “I hope that no matter who wins or loses the election, it doesn’t deter residents from getting involved in the community.” Bowlin maintains the pre-election appointments were not politically motivated, but not everyone agreed with that statement. “Wildwood voters are not dumb,” Bowlin said. “They’re smart, and they know that just because someone is appointed to a position, that doesn’t mean they’re the person they’ll vote for. Just because the candidates are approved by the mayor and could lose if it failed to receive a parks grant due to a lower score on its application, Keathley pointed out. It’s also good to have an outside firm’s opinion, he added. City staff earlier had opened proposals from a number of consulting firms and had recommended Pros Consulting Inc. for the project. The council voted unanimously to award a contract to the Indianapolis-based firm at a price not to exceed $60,000. The parks committee recommended using up to $8,500 from the parks reserve fund to pay for a new community garden site and the council unanimously agreed. The former garden location was on ground that has been sold. The fact that the new site is just north of the old one makes an exodus of current plot holders unlikely, city officials believe, but there is a waiting list if any vacancies occur. Fencing and other supplies from the original garden will be used at the new site, east of Burkhardt Place on the eastern side of Chesterfield Parkway. As with the old location, the new garden is on land owned by Sachs Properties, which has allowed the city to use the tract for the next several years or until the site is slated for development. Those using plots in the garden pay the city a rental fee. During the past two years, that income has totaled $4,050. council doesn’t mean voters don’t do their own investigation, because they do. We have a highly educated city, and they know what they’re doing.” Councilmember Tammy Shea [Ward 3] said, “It just seems like if you weren’t trying to politicize these appointments, you would just pick someone who wasn’t running already.” Stephens described the nomination of his opponent as “an act of desperation.” Still, he said, “I believe I have a strong campaign and I have the support of my opponent’s neighbors; I’m confident that they’d like to move away from the dysfunctional 2017 council meetings.” “You have to have confidence in the voters,” Shea said. “I trust this community implicitly, I really do.” According to the city charter, “If the City Council fails to consent to the appointment, the Mayor shall make an appointment of a different qualified candidate within thirty  days of the Council’s failure to consent and continue this process until such time as a majority of the members of the City Council consents to an appointment.” “If he’s got 30 days, that’s plenty of time to find somebody,” Shea said.
FACEBOOK.COM/WESTNEWSMAGAZINE WESTNEWSMAGAZINE.COM By JIM MERKEL Kim Stuckey’s family fits the pattern of many in Missouri. “My adult son and my husband both have dyslexia,” the Lake Saint Louis woman said. “My husband did not receive any special services when he was in school.” Her husband went to college, where he excelled in engineering and math but not literature. Her son received some help for his dyslexia, graduated from high school and went to trade school. Stuckey, herself, is in the middle of the fight to ensure that children with the condition receive the educational services they need to achieve academic success. As director-dyslexia specialist for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, she helped bring about the recent release of state guidelines for students with dyslexia. In June 2016, state law created a 20-member Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia to establish statewide guidelines to assist students with dyslexia. Those guidelines require all public and charter schools to conduct dyslexia screenings for students from kindergarten through third grade. The screening is a short test given by a teacher or school counselor to determine whether a student likely has dyslexia or a related disorder. It’s not a medical diagnosis, but it can identify whether a child is struggling with phonological awareness and memory, sound/symbol recognition, alphabet knowledge, reading comprehension and word recognition fluency among other traits. It also can indicate that a student can use extra help. Per the guidelines, extra help could mean, but is not limited to, oral examinations or extra time to take tests, availability of teacher-provided study guides and lecture notes, taped or recorded lectures, use of graphic organizers and visual aids, peer assistance and environment modification. The use of technology also can be helpful as students with dyslexia may find it easier to type rather than write assignments, or record lectures rather than taking notes. Finally, teachers are advised to be sensitive to the student’s emotional needs. Students with dyslexia can experience a higher than average sense of frustration. Access to school counselors, if necessary, and frequent positive feedback and reinforcement for effort and process, not just final output, is recommended. The guidelines further recommend that school districts offer two hours of inservice training regarding dyslexia and related disorders for all practicing teachers. Local school districts react Statistics show that about 15 percent of people have some form of dyslexia, from mild to severe. Among the kindergarten through third-grade group being tested, more than 40,000 could test positive for the condition. According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a neurological condition brought on by a different kind of wiring in the brain. It has nothing to do with intelligence and it does not require a cure. Instead, those with dyslexia develop coping mechanisms. The earlier students receive the help they need, the more they respond. Later, they may not be able to catch up. For some local schools, the report’s recommendations are nothing new. Several districts in West St. Louis and St. Charles counties say they already are following many of the guidelines in the state document. “We currently screen all of our students in reading and we provide intervention [using] best practices,” said Matt Deichmann, chief communications officer for the Francis Howell School District. He said the district already meets the majority of the requirements set forth in the legislation. And he noted, “We always work with our parents.” In the Parkway School District, customized learning coordinators John Barrow and Patrick Shelton said the district screens several times each year for students who struggle with reading. Out of about 17,500 students in the district, about 1,300 receive direct reading support, they said. Dr. Shelley Willott, executive director of learning and support services for the Rockwood School District, said in an email that Rockwood just is getting information February 14, 2018 WEST NEWSMAGAZINE about how dyslexia will be defined and what assessments and supports the district will have to put into place. The district does has a comprehensive reading intervention program in place to support its struggling readers, Willott said. But she added, “We are starting discussions regarding how we will need to supplement our reading intervention program to support students who are diagnosed with dyslexia. There will be extensive training with both reading intervention and classroom teachers next year regarding dyslexia. We are still exploring our options for that training.” In the Fort Zumwalt School District, Assistant Superintendent Henry St. Pierre said good systems already are in place. He said the district already screens students four times a year through fifth grade and has elementary reading teachers who provide instruction. However, the district is going through the guidelines to ensure that its processes match what the state wants. The district may add to the screening, St. Pierre said. While the guidelines stipulate requirements for providing extra supports for student with dyslexia, specific interventions are not detailed. That’s because Missouri does not specify curriculum requirements, Stuckey said. Still, St. Pierre said, “The legislation is good in that it highlights the need for early intervention. They do a good job of outlining what the expectations are.” Ahead of the curve One local school that has been leading the way in educating kids with dyslexia and other learning disabilities is the Churchill Center & School at 1021 Municipal Center Drive in Town & Country. Founded in 1978, Churchill serves about 145 children with an intensive form I COVER STORY I 35 Overcoming the challenges of dyslexia New guidelines mean Missouri students have a clearer path to success of proven instruction meant to overcome such limitations as ADHD, nonverbal language disorder, social communications disorder and visual processing disorder. But the most common condition at the private school is dyslexia. The school was started by parents who were frustrated that they had to send their children to private schools elsewhere to get the best curriculum to deal with dyslexia. A variety of research-based methods exist to help students overcome the challenges of dyslexia. The Churchill School uses the Wilson Reading System, which depends on senses like touch, seeing and hearing when teaching a lesson. Teachers may have students use small tiles containing letters like “tr,” “u” and “ck” to assemble the work “truck.” “They [students with dyslexia] are not efficient readers. They need to be specifically taught all the various aspects of reading,” said Anne F. Evers, director of admissions. “Our kids need to be actively involved when they’re learning.” In most cases, students at the school come up to grade level, said founding director Sandi Gilligan. Moss is a bubbly fifth-grader who is in his third year at Churchill. Now 11, the Des Peres resident struggled at a parochial school before his parents decided he needed more help. “It was hard to read and spell, and I would get pulled out of class,” Moss said. His ambition is to be a football star or a lawyer. Churchill, he said, “definitely helped me in reading and spelling the most because that’s where I would struggle.” He said if he wasn’t getting the training, “I would feel sad, I guess.” Helping kids like Moss succeed is at the core of the new guidelines and Churchill’s curriculum. Whether in a public school or a school specializing in the field, dedication is a key, Gilligan said. “You have to be committed, and you have to understand it deeply,” she said. “Our alumni are conquering the world.” One alum, Gilligan said, went into the Peace Corps after college and now teaches children in Rwanda about how to start a business. Other less local, but well-known individuals who have overcome the challenges of dyslexia include Thomas Edison, Steven Spielberg, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Schwab. According to the International Dyslexia Association, some say the way individuals with dyslexia think can actually be an asset in achieving success. But now in Missouri, the path to that success, finally say advocates, begins with a single, simple test.