2015 DISTINGUISHED FACULTY
Teresa Boggs is the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Faculty Award for Service .
Boggs is an assistant professor in the Department of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology within the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. She is also director of clinical services for speech-language pathology and a candidate for a doctoral degree in early childhood education.
Her greatest contribution, however, is guiding the Nave Language Center’s facility devoted to the needs of children with autism and related communication disorders.
Boggs began her involvement with autism in 2005, when the prevalence of autism was one in 110 individuals. The rate has grown to one in 68 individuals. As a speech-language pathology supervisor at ETSU, she noted an influx of children with the diagnoses of autism and realized that graduate students needed specific training to better serve this population, which involves children with social, communication and language impairment. In addition, the families of children with autism need an array of support services.
Boggs was able to obtain a classroom at the Nave Center in Elizabethton and establish the Nave Language Center. She enlisted the aid of Dr. Bob Barnhart of ETSU’s physical therapy program to create a sensory movement room in another classroom, with a climbing wall, ball pit, swings and therapy balls.
By 2010, the center provided nearly 1,300 visits for speech and language services. With the support of parents, students and volunteers, Boggs hosted a Walk to Talk fundraiser to establish a foundation account that supports scholarships so that children without sufficient insurance could receive services.
Boggs later developed an information library and established Saturday seminars with workshops to educate parents.
In 2010, the Positive Eating Program was begun as a way to address the many children on the autism spectrum who exhibit feeding disorders. That program led Boggs to apply for a Heal Appalachia Now grant to fund the Nave Language Center Garden, where children can learn about how food grows and the benefits of healthy food.
A recent development is the Summer Language and Learning Institute, designed to provide fun while keeping up children’s skills over their summer break from school. And, the Community Intervention Program involves field trips, with opportunities for children to practice social and communication skills in the real world.
A letter of recommendation from a parent of the children Boggs serves notes, “She understands the isolation of special needs families, and works consistently in creative ways to bridge that gap. She has been, and continues to be, an immeasurable blessing in the lives of so very many.”
Another parent said of Boggs, “She is one of the most talented people that I have ever met and goes above and beyond the expected parameters of her position. I trust Teresa explicitly with my most precious treasure — my children.”