PODCAST EPISODE 18
The Hearing and Speech Center
Quote of the Podcast –
Find out who you are and do it on purpose. -Dolly Parton
Introduction of Guest BIO –
Marcey Ansley is nearing her 13th year as the Executive Director at The Hearing & Speech Center. In addition to this role, she has worked in nonprofit leadership for nearly 30 years at local, regional and national organizations like, Arbor Youth Services, the American Red Cross, the Alzheimer’s Association and Hospice of the Bluegrass. Marcey and Erik, her husband of 26 years, are both transplants to Lexington, Kentucky, she is originally from Warren, Ohio. Marcey’s most important role is being the parent of a child (now young adult) with hearing loss, Alexander Ansley. He is her daily inspiration, as he is the poster-child for early intervention! She is an active volunteer within the Episcopal church community; she is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Lexington and was the President in 2011; she has volunteered with many local organizations and school-based groups and is currently a member of the AG Bell Association, the treasurer of the National Association of Hearing & Speech Centers and she is on the board of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Bluegrass.
In this episode, we'll be discussing the incredible changes that have taken place in Kentucky's education system, specifically in the field of speech therapy and language acquisition for children with hearing loss. Marcey will walk us through the challenges of early education, shed light on the importance of investing in quality childcare, and share heartwarming stories of how her organization has made a significant impact on children's lives.
Join us as Marcey Ansley opens up about her personal journey as a parent, her dedication to early intervention, and the vital work being done at the Hearing and Speech Center. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and get ready to gain new perspectives on education.
Agents of Change: Leaders/Innovators
Hearing and Speech Center’s Online Hearing Test https://hscky.org/online-hearing-test/
Podcast/book shoutoutsSupport the show
Education Perspectives is edited by Shashank P athttps://www.fiverr.com/saiinovation?source=inbox
Intro and Outro by Dynamix Productions
Liza Holland [00:00:02]:
Welcome to education perspectives. I am your host, Liza Holland. This is a podcast that explores the role of education in our society from a variety of lenses. Education needs to evolve to meet the needs of today and the future. A solving such huge issues requires understanding. Join me as we begin to explore the many of education. So we are happy to welcome today Marcy Ansley. She is nearing her 13th year as the executive director at the Hearing and Speech Center. In addition to this role, she has worked a in nonprofit leadership for nearly 30 years at local, regional, and national organizations, like Arbor Youth Services, a The American Red Cross, the Alzheimer's Association, and Hospice of the Bluegrass. Marcy and Eric, a Her husband of 26 years are both transplants to Lexington, Kentucky. She is originally from Warren, Ohio. A Marcy's most important role is being the parent of a child, now a young adult with hearing loss, Alexander Ansley. A He is her daily inspiration as he is the poster child for early intervention. She is an active volunteer within the Episcopal church community. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Lexington and was the president in 2011. She has volunteered with many local organizations a and school based groups and is currently a member of the AG Bell Association, the treasurer of the National Association of Hearing and Speech Centers, a And she is on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass. We welcome Marcy. Welcome Marcy to Education Perspectives. I'm so a to have you here today.
Marcey Ansley [00:01:50]:
Thank you for having me. I was really honored.
Liza Holland [00:01:53]:
Well, I appreciate that, and I'm gonna kick us off with our, first question to every guest. Taking that 30,000 foot view, why do you think that we as a society invest in education?
Marcey Ansley [00:02:05]:
A That is such a good question, and I think I've heard it before. But fundamentally, I think investing in a Education is truly an investment in our future without having some method of of a foundation for our children and even adults for social growth, for personal growth. In order to help our society to move forward either through technology and advancements. I feel like we have to have that that foundation for our future.
Liza Holland [00:02:37]:
Good answer. So I know you have done a lot of different nonprofit things over your work experience, but now you have kind of landed into education, and, obviously, there were elements of education in all of the things that you did before. But what drew you to the Lexington Hearing and Speech
Marcey Ansley [00:02:55]:
Center? Well, I always feel like I'm kind of education adjacent, you know, in my role, and a Overarchingly, the Hearing and Speech Center, as you intimately know, has been part of our family's journey for the last almost 23 years. A And I I gulp when I say that I've been in the nonprofit sector in our community for almost 30 years, but so a When this opportunity arose, it was my dream job. I wanted to work at an organization that truly, one, not only impacted our family's life. A little back story. My son or our Eric and I son, Alex, will be 23 in December, and he failed his newborn hearing screening. We were very lucky. A In Kentucky at that point, they had just passed regulation that required newborn hearing screenings literally 5 months before he was born. A So we were able to get that diagnosis very, very early on, and he started here we started here as a family when he was 2 months old. A So I've been able to not only live through him in all every aspect of our organization, so from a Our speech language clinic and audiology clinic and also the early education. So I've got to witness it as parent first a And became actively involved as a volunteer with the organization, and then when, at that time, almost 13 years ago, a The executive director was moving. She knew it was my dream job to come and be part of an organization that really a Made Alex's journey so seamless. You know, we were able to transition. We chose public school, a And we were able to transition so seamlessly into our local public school with all of the supports that he needed. He was on par with his caring peers, a So he didn't require an IEP, not that that's a good thing or a bad thing, but we were just really kind of proud that he was truly a a poster child a. For early intervention, and and he's continued today. He's still here because we we do have a full family audiology clinic, so he'll probably be a lifer as long as Lives in our community. I don't see him really going anywhere else because he calls half the people who work here aunties. So a They're they're definitely part of our family. They've been part of our journey. And so almost 13 years ago, I was able to step into this role a as executive director and work for this really special kind of unicorn of an organization. Like, with the fact that we get to have a Early education from the age of 6 weeks through kindergarten and wrap around all that wrap around early intervention supports in our building every day. A So for somebody like Alex who wore hearing or wears hearing aids, if he had an issue, it could be addressed immediately. There was no waiting. There's no waiting a For things like uncovering he was missing the s sound or or anything like that, so we can quickly intervene a When we need to with any of our children in our center. And so today, we're we're in an old elementary school, which also makes it really fun. We feel a the love of the last almost 100 years that was in this building when it was a public school, and we have about a 165 kiddos a in 13 classrooms here, and it's a special
Liza Holland [00:06:12]:
place. It is indeed. So tell me, what do you absolutely love about what you do?
Marcey Ansley [00:06:17]:
A Oh my gosh. I, there's a handful of things that I love. I love walking down the hallways in our early learning center a and getting high fives and lots of hugs, and I love it when kids recognize me by literally the shoes that I'm wearing, so if I don't have loud a Shoes on that day. They're very confused. They have a tendency to wear a lot of heels and boots and so the things that come out, a. Their mouths are absolutely hysterical, and to watch the interaction of our team, a Our staff, we have 40 in our early learning center staff, they know every child, and they embrace every child and every family a As if they were their own, and I I just think it's magical to watch that journey and to be part of families' lives from, a Whether they have a a diagnosis or not, being part of their journey right from the get go, and whether that's and sometimes it can get really bumpy, and and it can be a grieving time. And to be there for families when they get those diagnoses and to know that they have people who love and support them along the way a and are willing to help find every intervention possible to make their children's early educational career as successful as possible. A And and so those are things that I I absolutely love. And selfishly, all those smiles and high fives and hugs melt my heart. So a, and I feel like I'm kinda like an aunt or a grandmother who can go down and read books and have fun, But if a diaper needs to be changed or we're having a tantrum, I can just walk away. I love that. So it's a lot of fun. I just I I do. I love it.
Liza Holland [00:07:59]:
A Well, you know, hearing loss is definitely something that can be an obstacle for students along their education journey. And, you know, as you've alluded a to early intervention can make a critical difference. Can you talk a little bit more about the variety of services that you our offering there and how that impacts kids' readiness to be able to go into school.
Marcey Ansley [00:08:23]:
Sure. So a We are a listening and spoken language environment, so we are the only rehabilitative center in the state of Kentucky a that provides listening and spoken language interventions. And what that means is that for a baby or a child who's been identified with hearing loss, a If their parents are choosing oral language or listening to spoken language modality as opposed to sign language, they're most likely gonna be here at some point in that journey. And so for little ones, we start as young as a couple of weeks old. So as soon as a baby fails any born hearing screening, for example, in a hospital, or a We're getting we're getting a referral from a home birth or from pediatrician office or an ENT practice, wherever that may be, wherever we're getting the referrals from. A We can do the 1st brain activity testing as young as 2 weeks. So we can identify hearing loss so much earlier now a And help families make the decision on what type of intervention they want to do. And so in our audiology clinic, we do have a Folks that are are total communication. They're choosing to come here still for their audiology support, whether that be using a hearing device or not, hearing aids, a If they're on the path for a cochlear implant, so we literally are that guide by a family side from the very beginning on making those decisions. If their child has a profound hearing loss, a Our audiology team and speech therapy team are with them to decide, do they wanna go through with that surgery? If so, which device is gonna be best for their child? A And then the bone anchored hearing aids. So we are and we also help with all of all of those for children that don't have external ears. So we do a Bone Anchored hearing device, and so it eventually becomes an implantable. But when they're little, they wear it on a headband because as they're growing, they can't be implanted yet. A So we have lit right from the start, and then we implemented about 5 years ago, once teletherapy was really starting to take off, We started a 4 session free program called TeleTalk and Teach, and it's a For anyone's families of 0 to 3 year olds. The the babies are usually playing the whole time, but they're for families of our 0 to 3 year olds a who want an introduction to listening and spoken language. So they get 4 free sessions, and at that point, we can a Transition them into speech therapy, and we so we can search, you know, speech therapy as young as a couple months old because we want to build the listening component which then builds the auditory brain portion for our kids with hearing loss, which is directly related to reading. So a That's why we start all of this so early with our kiddos with hearing loss because it's all a direct linkage. Our auditory brain is a direct linkage to our literacy foundation a that we wanna make sure that we can optimize every moment of those little brains being able to suck in in as much information as possible. A And, like, we have a lot of children that don't even attend our early learning center. So from an outpatient standpoint, we're looking at about 2,000 families a And a 120 of them are in our school. So our reach from an early intervention standpoint is truly statewide a And not just in Fayette County.
Liza Holland [00:11:40]:
Well, that was exactly what I was going to, to interrupt you to talk about was the fact that a You actually really, especially with the advent of telemedicine and whatnot, are really able to reach out on a statewide type of a basis, And so you're providing services that were previously not available.
Marcey Ansley [00:11:57]:
Exactly. More very difficult for families, and it was a barrier for families to try a get here on a weekly basis because we know that the more intervention that we can give to a child, the better off they're gonna be in the long run. But if we have a child who's driving in or a family driving in 2 to 3 hours every week for a speech therapy session, it's not realistic, and it's not gonna happen. And so once we were able, from a regulatory standpoint, all of that changed in 2018, 2019 in Kentucky, so we were very lucky, a the speech therapy was included in that, and so we were able to get, that launched very quickly. Again, being a nonprofit, It helps. We're able to get a lot of grant funding to help support it so we didn't have to charge families right away, and now insurance is starting to pay, so that's very exciting a To see that transition. And the other nugget that when we were talking about our kiddos with hearing loss in particular, we a on a Kentucky Commission For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Committee, and this started several years ago around language acquisition for very young children with hearing loss, and it kinda it trickled its way down. They were doing through Kentucky Department of Education and some testing With kids and recognizing reading levels and just kind of graduation rates for our kids with hearing loss is very, very poor in our state. And so a It kept going backwards in this conversation, and the language acquisition, the final proposal to the state left Kentucky Department of Education altogether a And went all the way back to the early intervention system, recognizing that if we don't address this at 0 to 3, a Making any level of hearing loss a qualifier for the early intervention program in state, it didn't really matter what happened at 3 to 5 because we lost a 3 years. So that has been passed, and that is now in place. So that's been very exciting. So when we talk like, when I think education, I start at birth a in my brain for what we're do for what we do and what we're thinking. So that was a really neat I hadn't been part of any kind of committee like that in the past and a specific to education, so it was really interesting to watch how that all came together. It took a couple of years, but we got it, and it's been passed. So that's exciting.
Liza Holland [00:14:12]:
A That is very exciting. It it's really important that our legislators recognize the importance of a attacking some of these underlying challenges before kids ever even get into this track where if they don't have the skill set From the beginning, it will continue to snowball for them as throughout the education system. A That's really exciting, and I would like to point out to our listeners that the hearing and speech center is not just for kids. I have a focus on the education part of it, a but you're able to service entire families and anybody who even doesn't have kids.
Marcey Ansley [00:14:50]:
Right? We do. Yes. So in our family hearing center, a We call it twinkle to wrinkle. So we've talked a little bit about I mean, I guess our twinkles could be a100 also. So so that's where a We literally will start with babies a couple weeks old, and then our oldest client in audiology right now is a 104, and we literally have people of all ages in between. And they did not have to go to school here, be an alumni here. We have a lot of our families in our early learning center a who have really uncovered and discovered that they had hearing loss by being here. So we do a lot of family events where we encourage people to get tested. A There's kind of that nice number that a baseline hearing screening should happen at age 40. It's not part of our mainstream dialogue in medical care, a And it really needs to be, like, shame on us in audiology land. That's not talking about enough, I guess, but because our hearing really impacts our entire body system. A So when we're going in to check things like our eyes and our blood pressure and our cholesterol, we really should be getting that baseline hearing test every year a From the time we're 40. And and we have a a we call it a hearing quiz on our website, so that at least gives Could give at least a little nugget for folks if they're concerned, and it's a starting point. We, of course, feel like everyone should go in and and see an audiologist a get that testing because it is a medical intervention at that point.
Liza Holland [00:16:19]:
Absolutely. And it is such an important component piece of communication, which is one of the skill sets that we need our entire lifetimes these days, especially in this information age. So I'll look that up and put it in the the link in the show notes host so people can connect in there like that.
Marcey Ansley [00:16:37]:
I appreciate it. It'll get on my soapbox because you're right. It it impacts everything from, You know, our our social emotional, our vocational, academic, and most overwhelmingly, our quality of life. You know, if we don't have that connectedness a. To other humans and whatever our communication modality is, that connectedness, when that goes away, can impact and lead to things like dementia. A So we really are I wanna make sure we can shout from the rooftops that people should get their hearing tested. And hearing aids are not just for the elderly, a So we are seeing a huge rise of folks in their early twenties get needing hearing devices, and we think a lot of that might have to do with noise a Induced hearing loss with, you know, our earbuds and all that good
Liza Holland [00:17:25]:
stuff. Yeah. A Well and there's the technology for hearing aids has really advanced as well. So I know when I see Alex, I forget sometimes that he has them because they're so
Marcey Ansley [00:17:38]:
discreet. Yep. And he can manage it on his on his Apple Watch, and you can manage it on your phone and all these different a settings are amazing. They're just incredible. These great computers and and
Liza Holland [00:17:49]:
ears. So I know one of my favorite things is to hear stories about a what's going on at the center. Do you have a favorite story or a memory, about your work you could share?
Marcey Ansley [00:18:00]:
I've got 1 in particular a Besides Alex. You know I could talk about him all day. And, but we had a little girl it's probably 2 years after I started, a little girl who started with us a And she had been in the foster care system, and she was going through an adoption process, and when a She moved in with her foster mama who ended up becoming her mom, her her adopted mama. She had literally lived in a crib for almost 2 years a and had no interaction with humans and really just lived like a feral child. It was just incredibly sad, a And she came to us. She was one of our toddlers and and ended up being here for 5 years, which was fantastic. And she knew, a I think two signs that she knew the sign for cookie and sleep. So she immediately started speech therapy here. We tested her for hearing loss because they thought that she had some hearing loss, but she didn't. But fast forward, she was here for 5 years, so she went all the way through and did 2 years of kindergarten with us because our kindergarten program Can count as kindergarten year. We have several kids that use it as transitional, but it can be a kindergarten year. So when she went on to 1st grade at public school, a We had gotten a note from her teacher, and her teacher did not know her history yet at that point. She had just met her, like, the 1st week of school when we were checking in, and a She sent back about how amazing this little girl was and that she was doing such a good job and that she was so happy to have her in the classroom. And when she had heard her backstory, she a was just bored and had no idea, and her adopted mother gave all these little popsicle a dolls that said, thank you for giving me a voice. And it was too heart wrenching. A I'm like, oh my gosh. I'm like, we literally gave this little girl a voice, and we're able to help her transition a Into 1st grade with no one knowing how horrible her start was and the fact that she, I know, was incredible. And then fast forward like 6 months, she was in in big school. I mean, that's what we call a public or private school, and a. We, I was at Bob Evans with my family for brunch one Sunday, and she's there, and she comes running over to our table, a And I get a huge hug, and she tells me all about school and her new backpack, all about a What her teachers were like and what she was doing in class, and it just absolutely melted to my heart. And now that's what probably almost 10 years ago, a It has just stuck with me from the beginning, the major impact that we're making, and we get to do this all the time. It's just fantastic.
Liza Holland [00:20:45]:
Boy, that's so exciting. I know. It's great. So going from the highest high, tell me a little bit about the challenges and obstacles that you
Marcey Ansley [00:20:56]:
face. Being in an early education environment, I one of the largest challenges I think for us a Is society truly recognizing the importance of early education, and that it should start before 3? And I feel like that's huge. And because of that societal impact, we're not seeing a A lot of college graduates anymore coming out with early childhood education because it's not whether it's not valued or a We know the pay scales are vastly different, and so the rising cost of living in general a is causing maybe not causing folks not to go into the field, but I think the fact that it it doesn't get the kudos that I think it deserves. A And our 0 to 5 teaching staff are rock stars. They are really the foundation for making sure that all of these little ones know how to go on to school to be successful. And if we can't support a 0 to 5 educators in education than what's gonna happen once they hit 5. And we saw that a massively after COVID, and it was real. You know, we heard all of these stories about kindergartners coming in in pasties a And not potty trained and not knowing their alphabet or colors or ABCs or reading. And so we know that there's a massive impact a with early education. I think that's one of our biggest challenges is as a society to look at, it's not daycare. A. This is early childhood education. It is not the same. We are here to if you choose a true, you know, 5 star program, This is a private school getting you the education that your child deserves. And that should be accessible for anybody who wants it. A And and so that's the other piece is the accessibility. Because there's not public funding for most of this currently, It really becomes a federal state and local issue. Talk about universal preschool pre k, I think too, because while that sounds great, a At the end of the day, we already have that in place. We've got early start, early head start. We've got a head start, and they start at 3 4 years old. A But what about our 0 to threes? And those programs are, like, 3 hours a day. They run-in a school year, and they're not even all school year long. Though it's while that sounds wonderful, a Most families today don't have the luxury of having a child in school for 3 hours a day, and that being it. A Most families need an environment that's gonna be 7:30 to 5:30, 6 to 6, or something even vastly different. A And so I think investing in quality early childhood education is key for us, to be able to have a robust a workforce moving forward to be able to support, you know, our quote unquote working poor now, to be able a To make that entire system easier for them to access high quality early education is critical.
Liza Holland [00:23:58]:
I agree with you wholeheartedly, and I think that that speaks a to even the larger issue of we're the only advanced society that doesn't really invest in childcare, much less a Some of the early school types of things because it really is a global societal issue. And a I had the opportunity to to do some consulting in the area of early childhood education, and a The amount of learning that happens before they ever reach school is absolutely a phenomenal. And, you know, as a parent, I kinda went I almost am glad I didn't know all of this because it is so high stakes.
Marcey Ansley [00:24:41]:
A. It's just. I do. I sit back and I'm amazed. Yeah. And, again, going back to stories for a second, a. We had a 3 year old in our, our, this was several years ago, and she was talking to her grandmother who was a physics professor at UK, and this little girl had cochlear implants, a And her grandmother was driving home one day, and she's like, oh, look at those pretty birds. They're in V formation. And she's like, Tutu, a They're migrating south for the winter, and she's like, she knew migration at 3. Right? I mean, a And that's what's happening in high quality educational environments. Like, we are truly preparing the next, a High school, college graduates now or trade school graduates, all of the above today. And and I we don't get this world, a rural education, I don't think gets a The credit it deserves for the work that's happening from that 0 to
Liza Holland [00:25:37]:
5. I absolutely agree with you, which kind of leads into our my final question which is about what you would like decision makers to know, and it sounds like we have some things to tell our legislators.
Marcey Ansley [00:25:48]:
I think I think, really, a One, I don't think it's I don't want to say I think it's the public school's responsibility because I I don't think that's fair to look backwards that far, but at the same time, a At least in Kentucky, we have an amazing office of early childhood education. And being able to invest through that system, a Which, again, we've seen it happen. It's been going on through through ARPA funding, and so we know it can exist. A How can that be strengthened? Because we're getting to a point where there's a couple of things happening. Rising costs of just regular day living and this living wage a. It's getting to a point where most, get child care, so high quality child care centers, any child care center in early education environment, a We you can't afford to operate anymore. So centers are closing left and right. There's a huge demand because more and more people have to have a Either dual income or single income or multiple jobs, so we know it's a critical component to society a into our economic workforce. Without this layer, things are going to crumble. And so we have to start figuring out how to invest in these programs a better into art programs like ours better, but at every level. It doesn't and and not jumping it onto somebody else a Because the school system they already have their plan. They're you know, they are working through early start and head start, and that's sent into place. We gotta back it up a And take a look at how can we do that just a little bit stronger, a lot stronger. And then also supporting those families a who need childcare assistance. So the process to get that right now, I'll give you again a story. A We've had a family who has been on it for several years, gotten child care assistance. They terminated her in June for we don't know why, a And she has we are now in September. She's still not back on. And this is a family who's been on it for years. So a We, being the center we are, will keep her child here for as long as we can and help her advocate along the way to get what she needs. A And so I don't think legislators know what's really happening boots on the ground. And so while we have all these beautiful systems quote unquote in place, a They're not working, and they're not working for our workforce, and so then it just forces people to potentially quit their job a and have no income, then what? And then that child's at home doing what? Nothing, potentially. So a There's just there's just a lot of different layers to what needs to be solved.
Liza Holland [00:28:25]:
Yeah. Yep. I like that you point that out. It's no a There's no use in finger pointing. It's a situation that we have, and we need to rethink a How we're approaching things to be able to, you know, keep what works, but, you know, add on, tweak, a change, eliminate whatever it happens to be to better meet the needs of our students and our society in general. Right. Absolutely. A Oh, god. This has been such a great discussion.
Marcey Ansley [00:28:57]:
Thank you so much for having me. This has been
Liza Holland [00:28:59]:
great. Well, super. I appreciate it so very, very much. A And as I mentioned, I will go ahead and put the the link to the center's website on in the show notes. A So if people are looking to maybe take your little quiz or find out about the great services that you have to offer, that they can do that as well. And please do read the show notes a great quotes and podcast shout outs and all that kind of stuff for Marcy. So thank you so very much.
Marcey Ansley [00:29:26]:
Thanks, Liza. I appreciate it.
Liza Holland [00:29:28]:
A Appreciate you. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of education perspectives. Feel free to share your thoughts on our Facebook page. Let us know which education perspectives you would like to hear or share. Please pride, and share with your friends.