Graduate Students Gain Experience at Kenley School

by   |  02.09.16  |  Uncategorized

First year, first semester graduate students gain valuable clinical experience at Kenley School, a unique private school for children with learning challenges of different kinds. This learning experience is an extension of two classes involving the grad students: Language and Language-Based Literacy Disorders in the School-Aged Population: Assessment and Treatment taught by Dr. Lynette Austin, and Clinical Practicum taught by Mrs. Rachel Smith and Mrs. Diana Taylor.  Students and faculty work together to evaluate children’s language skills and then provide a month-long “Language Lab”, working with the children several hours per week to target specific academic language skills.

Please read about the work these students are doing as reported in the latest Kenley School Progress Report.


Kenley Mailing

Supplies for Cuba Autism Program

by   |  12.06.15  |  Uncategorized

Faculty, staff, and students of the CSD Department collected items to assist children living in Cuba who have autism. While speaking at a conference in Cuba on the topic of autism, Dr. Lynette Austin  visited with Dr. Burgois, a psychiatrist working in the state of Matanzas who leads a multidisciplinary autism team. He stated that while they have the necessary skilled professionals to help these children, they are lacking in toys, manipulatives, and teaching materials. So, without hesitation everyone got busy! A box full of ‘things’ were collected, packed in a big suitcase and sent to Cuba with a parent of one of our students (Andrea Archer) and Steve Austin (husband of Dr. Lynette Austin) who were travelling to this area.

Cuba case

We recently received pictures and a note of thanks from Dr. Burgois.

“The help really left us speechless.  It has totally exceeded our expectations.  It is . . .amazing to me, and I told my fellow workers, that even in a troubled world ruled by violence, hatred and selfishness there are still kind and generous people!   This spiritually enriches us and gives us strength to keep fighting. . . .” ~ Dr. Burgois

Cuba1Dr. Burgois with a student and his teacher using some of the toys we sent.
Cuba2 (1)
Steve Austin with a student, his teacher and a book sent in the case.


Teacher and student working with supplies we shared.

Department Going To The Dogs…

by   |  10.30.15  |  Uncategorized

You might have thought the CSD Department was going to the dogs on Thursday when 24 dalmatian puppies showed up for class. But no, it was just the first year graduate students waiting to listen attentively to their professor, Cruella de Vil (Dr. Lynette Austin)! Fortunately, Cruella was kind to the puppies and just instilled within them a lot of wisdom and knowledge!

pups and cruella 1pups and cruella 4

Brenda Bender Awarded Teacher of the Year!

by   |  10.07.15  |  Uncategorized


BenderWe could not have been more proud of our own Brenda Bender when she was honored as Teacher of the Year during the May 2015 Commencement ceremony.  While we could elaborate extensively about her talents and skills, the following article from the Optimist provides an excellent overview of her story. Enjoy the read and maybe drop Brenda a note of congratulations!

Walking the Talk: Speech Pathology professor receives Teacher of the Year award

the Optimist

By Elijah Evans
Posted on August 28, 2015

Dr. Brenda Bender didn’t have any interest in speech pathology in 1986 as a freshman. Twenty nine years and two degrees later, she is the teacher of the year in the communication sciences and disorders department.

“I wanted to make a difference in how we educate masters level speech pathologists,” she said. 

Bender, associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, was named Teacher of the Year at graduation last May. When she was announced as the recipient of the award at graduation, her students gave her a standing ovation. Even today, several months after graduation, several of her former students warmly recall Dr. Bender’s teaching prowess and enthusiastically emphasize her kindness and patience.

“She was someone who would always go above and beyond to help her students,” said Becca Clay, who graduated from the Speech-Language Pathology masters program in the spring and was Dr. Bender’s graduate assistant for two years. “She was an extra-mile teacher, for sure.”

After getting her masters at the University of North Texas in 1994, she worked in the speech pathology field for about five years before she decided to pursue her doctorate at the University of Memphis.

The speech pathology field has a shortage of doctorate level and Ph.D.-trained faculty, Bender said.   

After the department chair at ACU contacted Bender and offered her a position, she came onto faculty at ACU in 2001. She started teaching in January of 2002, just after ACU established the graduate program. She served as the department chair from 2006 through spring 2015, while teaching graduate classes, investigating speech disorders and continuing to treat patients.

“Teaching is my vocation,” Bender said. “I come from a long line of teachers, so as a speech pathologist you use those skills of teaching with patients. I think that my job is to help another person to understand the world and themselves better than when they came in the door that day.”

She relies on a multitude of techniques to achieve her goals with her patients, and she also utilizes a variety of activities in the classroom to help her students. Not only is she honest with her students, she also uses fun, hands-on activities to engage her students, Clay said.

Dr. Bender’s teaching philosophy is driven by her belief that we are all “created for communication” and that “everyone in the classroom is learning.” These two guiding principles mean that she engages her students every day and learns alongside them in every class.

“Not only is she an incredible professor, but she demonstrates the compassion necessary to engage the world as a passionate speech-language pathologist,” wrote Jordan Hanson, who graduated in the spring after receiving a Master’s of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. “She instilled the idea of compassionately loving our patients and going the extra mile for them.”

The new department chair Dr. Terry Baggs highlighted Dr. Bender’s non-traditional teaching and departmental insightfulness.

“She has not only been a good administrator, she demonstrates excellent teaching skills,” Dr. Terry Baggs said. “She has been a good example to all of us on how we can think outside the box in terms of teaching.”

Both Clay and Hanson emphasized Dr. Bender’s classroom vigor and authenticity, and Dr. Baggs agreed.

“I think that’s one of the reasons she’s teacher of the year, because she’s not a traditional teacher,” he said. “She helps a student not only gain the knowledge, but the skills they need to be a speech pathologist.”

Dr. Bender will continue to open her students’ minds, tune their ears to speech and treat patients in need of her help. But her impact is not just educational. Because she determinedly invests in her students, she also makes a lasting impact on them.

“We are all proud of her,” Clay said. “I miss her and wish she was still my professor.”

Alumnus Awarded Therapist of the Month

by   |  10.07.15  |  Uncategorized

Becca Clay

Becca Clay, May 2015 graduate of the ACU Graduate Program , was awarded the September Therapist of the Month Award from Pediatric Plus.  Located in Little Rock, Arkansas, Pediatric Plus is a developmental preschool and outpatient clinic providing Becca the opportunity to serve clients with a variety of disabilities. She has obviously made a great impression on her fellow therapists!

Becca has a strong faith in the Lord which was evident during her undergraduate and graduate experience at ACU and continues to be observed in her work, and especially in her church involvement. As a member of the Little Rock Church, Becca is active with the youth group leading the 6th-7th grade girls small group.  In addition, she is on the family advocate council at LRC and is spearheading a group that is starting a young adults ministry.  She served as a summer intern for this congregation and these kiddos during the summers of 2013-2014.

We are proud of Becca and the way she is providing Christian service and leadership in her corner of the world!