Golden Apple nominee reflects core values
Two kindergarteners are happy to supply the name of the critter they’ve been asked to identify on a flash card. “It’s a piGG!” they chortle.
Speech/language pathologist MiaTree Oquilo responds with equal enthusiasm as she wields the card. “Right! And I love hearing that ‘gah’ at the end,” she says.
In an Eastwood Elementary School classroom festooned with student artwork and brimming with children’s games and puzzles, Oquilo guides these boys and other students through exercises aimed at boosting their communication skills.
Some have trouble with letter sounds. Others have developmental delays or physical conditions that make speech a struggle. Still others may be autistic or have attention disorders. Oquilo offers help to all of these children and more.
Her effectiveness, along with her dedication to providing professional support to her colleagues, have earned her a nomination for the Excellence in Education Golden Apple Award. As the Douglas ESD nominee, Oquilo will join 28 other Golden Apple recipients scheduled to gather May 24 at the Roseburg Country Club for the ceremony organized by Century 21 The Neil Company Real Estate. In addition to Oquilo, honors will go to nominees from each school from the Glide, Sutherlin, South Umpqua and Winston-Dillard and Roseburg Public Schools districts.
Douglas ESD Superintendent Michael Lasher said MiaTree has helped hundreds of children in her 15-plus years here as a speech pathologist – not only with their communications skills, but also with their self-esteem.
He also praised her work in supervising new professionals who are completing graduate school work and coaching them as they seek certification.
“MiaTree has become a leader in the department and throughout ESD by building teamwork throughout the organization,” Lasher said.
Though her caseload can fluctuate, Oquilo currently sees between 45 and 50 children at Eastwood Elementary. Most meet with her two to three times a week.
On a recent afternoon, she nudged (“I’m not feeling you are putting your full effort into this, because I know you can do it”), praised (“It’s nice that you put your ‘th’ in ‘rhythm.’ Give me five for that!”) and rewarded progress with Hershey’s Kisses. Students knew they could get a smile by making the hard “g” sound in the back, not the front, of the mouth or affirming they “love” rather than “wuv” chewing gum.
“My work is to know where each student is and try to stay one step ahead, while coaxing the student toward his or her respective goal,” she said afterwards. “Ultimately, they each have the right and the need to feel good about themselves … I think we gain the most when we are happy, so laughter and merriment are welcomed.”
For her diligence and compassion with children, as well as her dedication to those she’s mentored over the years, we at Douglas ESD congratulate MiaTree Oquilo for her Golden Apple Award.