Ronceverte Elementary Installs Nonverbal Communication Boards - The West Virginian
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Ronceverte Elementary Installs Nonverbal Communication Boards

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Kids returning to school should notice a new addition to the Ronceverte Elementary School playground — nonverbal communication boards.

“Ronceverte Elementary School is proud to announce that brand new non-verbal communication boards are going to be installed this school year!” announced the Ronceverte Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) on Facebook. “These boards will be extremely beneficial for our special needs students! These boards will bridge the gap of communication between non-verbal students and their peers during recess! There are two boards; one will be placed on the playground used for Kindergarten through 5th grades and the other will be placed on the Pre-K playground!”

The boards come into Ronceverte Elementary. Left to right – PTO officer Ashley Guet, Special Education teacher Pam Hanna, and Speech-Language Pathologist Karen Isabell. Photo courtesy of Guet.

The boards can be invaluable to those unable to communicate effectively on their own. Ronceverte PTO officer Ashley Guet’s daughter Winter has trouble with this, one of the ways autism presents in her life.

“Two summers ago, at the water mister,” Guet told the Mountain Messenger in 2020. “It was right after Winter discovered it, she’s a water baby and loves that thing. She was playing on it and another little girl was playing on it, and a third little girl came over. Not intentionally and not maliciously, they were edging Winter out and she was looking at me. I thought I was going to have to step in, but Winter held her hand and put it out. Then it finally clicked to the little girl what Winter wanted. They just all had a blast and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen because it was the first time Winter communicated on her own without me. … I cried all the way home.”

This prevents her from communicating what she would like or need to other kids or adults, a problem the boards seek to fix.

“[In 2019] I was on Facebook and I ran across an article about a nonverbal communication board someone put up in some other state, I don’t remember where it was, at an elementary school,” Guet previously told the Mountain Messenger. “I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I realized this wasn’t something new, this was something we hadn’t caught onto yet.”

Guet took the idea to Ronceverte Elementary School, looking to get a board installed in the school’s playground, and was surprised to receive as much support as she did. Ronceverte Elementary School Principal Stuart and the Parent Teacher Organization each “jumped right on in.”
Despite this momentum, the same thing that interrupted everyone’s lives also interrupted the project — COVID-19.

With help from now Mayor Deena Pack, the Ronceverte Parks and Recreation Committee and many others boards have now come to Ronceverte Elementary School and are expected at Island Park.

“I am so proud of the school, PTO, and myself,” Guet told The West Virginia Daily News. “It feels good to see the boards become a reality! Big thanks are owed to our principal, Mrs. Andrea Stewart and the PTO for approving the boards and Mr. Tim Dolan at River City Signs & Tees because he brought my dream to life and he did such a stellar job!”

“Many thanks to … Mrs. Hanna and Mrs. Isabell for getting the pictures together for the boards and Tim Dolan at River City Signs & Tees for making Ashley’s vision come to life!” the PTO said on Facebook. “We are very excited and know these will be beneficial for years to come!”

In the meantime, plans to get two more boards up in Island Park are still ongoing.

“I can’t wait to see the boards up and in use!” Guet said. “It’s a very exciting time for our school. The inclusion that will come with these boards is so important and I’m proud that our school took such a big step towards that!”

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