Susan Clark

Susan Clark

Role

My role as an occupational therapist is to support the specific goals outlined in students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEP). As a related service provider,  I collaborate closely with all members of the IEP team as we work to ensure each child maximizes his/her independence in their occupational role as a student.  My goal is to identify what barriers may be impacting the student’s ability to access his/her educational curriculum. More specifically, I work with students who need specialized instruction in improving their fine motor coordination, visual motor skills, and self-regulation abilities as they relate to their behavior and sensory processing. Given the plethora of opportunities for sensory input literally built into the physical environment at Discovery, I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this fabulous team!

Professional Background

I received my Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Wake Forest University in North Carolina.  From there, I went on to receive a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.  I then moved to Arlington where I worked in adult rehabilitation in both skilled nursing and home health settings.  After several  years, I made the shift to stay-at-home mom when my son was born.  Nine years later, when my daughter entered kindergarten, I decided to reenter the OT field. While I loved working with adults and the elderly population, my original passion was, and still is, for children. Now being a mom, that fervor was even stronger. Thus,  I joined Skill Builders LLC, a private occupational and speech therapy practice. There, I worked with children with a wide variety of diagnoses as well as collaborated with their families to maximize their independence in each of their occupational roles as players, students, sons/daughters, and siblings. Along with a vast array of continuing education in sensory strategies and implementation of sensory tools in the classroom, I have certifications in Handwriting Without Tears, Brain Gym, Therapeutic Listening, and Zones of Regulation. In 2014, I felt the call to Arlington Public Schools.  I have such respect for this school district from both a professional and parental perspective, and was very excited to join the Special Education team. I have since worked with all of APS’s county wide special education programs, including Functional Life Skills, MIPA, special-education pre-kindergarten, and the Program for Employment Preparedness (PEP) at the Career Center, as well as supporting special education students in general education in both elementary and secondary settings at Barcroft Elementary and Jefferson Middle School. I joined the Discovery team in 2015 when we opened our doors and am now entering my 4th year here. It has been a true joy to be a part of this amazing team of professionals! 

Personal Interests

I had the pleasure of seeing my daughter be in the first graduating class here at Discovery. She is now in 8th grade next door at Williamsburg, and my son is a sophomore at Yorktown. When we are not filling our weekend time at various sporting events, we can often be found on hike with our dog, Elvis. During the summer, we often travel back to Alabama, where my immediate family lives, for an extended stay on the coast so we can get our Southern “fix.” Apart from spending time with my kids, I love traveling, running, skiing, trying new restaurants, and seeing live music with friends. 

Literary Connection

Giraffes Can’t Dance is one of my favorite children’s books! I love the message it sends about learning to appreciate your unique gifts and that anyone can follow their dreams.  In the story, Gerald is a giraffe wants to be a part of the annual Jungle Dance. However, he isn’t very coordinated, and when he tries to run, skip or dance, he tends to be awkward and clumsy and falls on the ground. The other animals laugh and make fun of Gerald, and he ends up walking away feeling very sad and inadequate. As Gerald walks home sadly, he encounters a friendly cricket who encourages him by telling Gerald to close his eyes and find his own music.  Gerald ends up getting lost in the music of nature and dances so beautifully and gracefully all of the other animals are astonished and ask him how he learned such neat moves. Gerald just replies,  “We all can dance when we find music that we love.” This book is especially special to me as an occupational therapist who works with our children who might be a bit “different,” like Gerald. It tells us that everyone has their unique and special gifts; and sometimes we just need the confidence and support of others to access and develop them.