It’s an early Wednesday morning (January 30, 2019), blustery subzero temperatures with the wind whistling thru the campus of Appalachian State University. Walking towards the Reich College of Education, brought back memories of being on campus many years ago. The new education building is stunning from the outside and little did I know how impressive my visit was about to be.

The tour began in the lobby with Gina Harwood Executive Director of Development – Reich College of Education and Jenny Ward Director of Development – Beaver College of Health Sciences. As we entered the door of The Pat Anderson Reading Clinic, we were met by Anderson Reading Clinic Director Dr. Devery Ward. Dr. Ward gave a very detailed and extensive presentation of the reading clinic. The clinic supports many children from not only Watauga County but many surrounding counties. The clinics reach is expanding to teaching local teachers to help change the knowledge base within the school system to identify ways to help children with reading disabilities. She is also excited about the addition of the Winston-Salem Valley Scottish Rite Academy at Middle Fork Elementary School in Forsyth County. The Reading Clinic offers opportunities to children that in other areas would not be able to advance with a feeling of accomplishment. From their “Authors Circle” to the one on one ratio learning, the Anderson Reading Clinic truly has a vision to eliminate literacy inequality to the children fortunate to attend. Parkway Elementary is another local school that the reading clinic has influence on children. The “Difference Makers” in these clinics are helping children one by one and showing them, anything is possible. Between campus, summer camps, Middle Fork Elementary and Parkway Elementary School, the expanding reach for children ranges in numbers upward to 150 children. With the donations and support of the Scottish Rite including the Winston-Salem Valley Scottish Rite Scholarship for the Masters Program in Reading Education, it makes the reading clinic available to serve these children. With the growing and demand for this program, children’s books and other items are needed. On a collegiate level, Dr. Ward is structuring a program that is one of the best in the nation.

We transitioned to Beaver College of Health Sciences and Leon Levine Hall. This beautiful addition to campus was recently built and opened for students last year. Dean of Beaver College Marie Huff was gracious with her time to meet with us in the lobby. She gave a brief overview of the vision they have for the department. We were then introduced to Bryan Belcher Director of the Interprofessional Clinic. We were also joined by Gail Donaldson Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Dr. Ben Russell Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders Clinical Associate Professor. The Interprofessional Clinic is a working clinic with several clinic rooms with cutting edge clinical equipment. Currently they are focusing on swallowing and voice analysis. Beaver College is working in conjunction with Wake Forest PA students with departmental space and class evaluations with Appalachian’s facilities. There is also an internship with Hardin Park Elementary for real world application to what the students are learning. Dr. Russell went on the describe his audiology department. The setup, machines and equipment are not a new sight for me as I have spent numerous visits inside the audiology booth with my daughter. The difference here is Dr. Russell exemplifies an energy and excitement that I wish we could have seen. The new technology he is using and his love for helping children make me confident all that he comes into contact inside the clinic are better off after they leave. They are working on grants to get a VRA machine to be able to test new born children for hearing disabilities. The department is also an impressive resource for the residents of the High County and surrounding counties for cutting edge hearing aid and audiology technological care without driving off the mountain.

The Charles and Geneva Scott Speech and Hearing Clinic is only a short drive away from the campus of Beaver College of Health Sciences. Walking into the building you already have the feeling that great things are happening inside, as you pass the playground designed for children with disabilities. I had the pleasure of meeting Senior Clinician Donna Brown and Karalee Cole. Donna went on to describe the amazing journey that the graduate students influenced by the Scottish Rite Scholarships including the Hillery H. Rink Jr. Scottish Rite Graduate Scholarship for Speech-Language Pathology. The program involves 36 students committing 5 semesters or 60 credit hours of study over 2 years. Children that are receiving therapy work with several clinical staff and students with therapy encompassing a semester. Donna did mention that the program has a very impressive 100% employment rate and that there is a shortage in all markets for individuals in speech pathology. Walking thru the halls the influence of the Scottish Rite is evident with framed masonic artwork and letters.

Overwhelming is an understatement when it comes to how impressive the clinics are. The level of professionalism is at an Elite level that most never get to witness. The dedication to the children that are served is truly amazing and I am humbled at the foundation of brotherly love found in our clinics. Today more than ever, I’m proud of my Appalachian Alma Mater and even more proud of the influence that the Scottish Rite is having on children in the High Country and across the state.