Dyslexia & Dysgraphia
Universal Design for Learning
Learning is For Life
Changemaking is scary. Emily Boyett does it anyway.
“I am in the field of loving what’s different about kids. I love diversity. I welcome it. It’s beautiful. I work so hard for inclusion and battling inequity and giving kids a fighting chance.”
Emily Boyett says these words through tears. Bold, joyous and kind, the Oklahoma speech pathologist is the kind of person who would prefer to roller skate rather than walk down her school’s long hallways. HR just won’t let her.
Her tears showcase her passion, her roller skates her playfulness. But it’s Emily’s actions and advocacy for her students that give her dedication to inclusion so much truth.
Emily is the Edmond Public Schools 2022 Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for Oklahoma’s 2023 Teacher of the Year.
(See Emily in action in this Facebook video from the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Bring tissues. You’ll need them.)
She’s obviously earned the deep respect of her students, administrators and colleagues. And despite the fact that she doesn’t make decisions for her district or even her school, she’s managed to positively impact students throughout Edmond Public Schools with her work.
One of her goals is to get literacy support into the hands of as many struggling readers and writers in Edmond as possible. And she is well on her way.
As an outspoken advocate for inclusion and equity, Emily acknowledges the vulnerability and fear that comes with putting yourself out there in a big way. Changemaking isn’t easy, and she often fights doubts, she says.
In this post, we’ll share Emily’s story, her “why,” and four ways she has worked through fear towards her goals.
Emily came to Edmond Public Schools in her role as a Speech Pathologist. Over time she’s built out an additional, self-assigned role as the assistive technology (AT) consultant for the district.
(Emily was hired by Edmond Public Schools as a speech pathologist with experience in assistive technology (AT). She identified a need for AT assistance and supports and over time, created the role of AT consultant for the district.)
“I believe that communication is the essence of human life, and everyone deserves a voice,” Boyett said.
Assistive technology is anything a person with a disability uses to complete a task that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible. AT includes augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, which helps students with speech or language impairments communicate through technology.
AT also includes literacy supports like Snap&Read and Co:Writer for students who struggle with reading and writing. For example, many of Emily’s students with dyslexia, a learning disability that impacts reading, use Snap&Read to read, study, and learn independently.
Emily Boyett has prioritized delivering AT to students. And now all Edmond students will have the opportunity to access Snap&Read if they need it.
Here’s how it happened.
Emily says that her story aligns with the book “What Do You Do with an Idea?” by Kobi Yamada.
If you haven’t read it, this sweet and beautiful book tells the story of a child who has an idea that won’t leave them alone.
Emily can relate. Several years ago, Emily had a Big Idea.
She saw how the students she worked with benefited from their literacy tools. She saw their confidence grow. And she wanted these tools to be available to any student in her district that needed them.
The number of licenses available to her students was limited. That meant Emily needed to advocate to decision makers for the purchase of a district-wide license.
Of both the book and her own experience, she says:
“Then that idea just kept coming around. I tried to put it out of my brain and here it comes again. And it just keeps following me, and so I started feeding it and paying attention to it. And then I was worried: are people going to laugh at my idea?
“It’s just this little egg throughout the story that grows and grows.”
“At the end of the book it says again, ‘What do you do with an idea?”
The book ends on a wonderful note.
“You change the world,” Emily says.
Here’s how Emily finds the strength to change the world a little bit at a time, even when the going gets hard:
Emily kept advocating until she finally had the opportunity to present her proposal to EPS’s administration team and then to the school board.
She received a phone call several months later. They had approved her request for a district-wide license.
When she got the news, Emily ordered copies of the book “What Do You Do with an Idea?” for everyone on her support team. In them, she wrote the date that Edmond’s Board of Education passed the district wide tools inside, as well as a little thank you note.
“Emily has been a champion for literacy supports for many years and has worked hard to help her district see the value of our Literacy Bundle,” says Linda Walker, Texthelp Customer Account Manager for Texas & Oklahoma.
“Edmond Public Schools has wrapped a fantastic team around their implementation and I have absolutely no doubt that we will make a difference for student outcomes.”
Emily, know that everyone here at Don Johnston and Texthelp is rooting for you and your team, no matter what.
Keep on changing the world.