Practical Access Podcast

S3 E14: Overcoming Obstacles with Rohana Swihart

November 24, 2020 Photo by Julie Molliver on Unsplash
Practical Access Podcast
S3 E14: Overcoming Obstacles with Rohana Swihart
Chapters
Practical Access Podcast
S3 E14: Overcoming Obstacles with Rohana Swihart
Nov 24, 2020
Photo by Julie Molliver on Unsplash

In today’s episode, Drs. Lisa Dieker and Rebecca Hines talk with Ph. D student and educator, Rohana Swihart. Tune in as she shares various approaches for overcoming personal obstacles. 

Show Notes Transcript

In today’s episode, Drs. Lisa Dieker and Rebecca Hines talk with Ph. D student and educator, Rohana Swihart. Tune in as she shares various approaches for overcoming personal obstacles. 

Lisa Dieker:

Welcome to practical access. I'm Lisa Dieker.

Rebecca Hines:

And I'm Rebecca Hines. And for today's listener, I guarantee you that Lisa is about to tell you, you're going to hear from our colleagues and good friends. So Lisa, who we talking to today?

Lisa Dieker:

Well, we have our colleague and friend, who has been a teacher at tri city in schools in the state of Washington, who is in the Central Florida area now, and we're thrilled to have you here with us rose. So we're gonna open it up by letting you just tell us a little bit about yourself. And then we've got a few questions for you about workforce and supporting students with

Rohana Swihart:

Thank you for having me. Yes, so I grew up in a beautiful when it was non burning state of Washington, and came up through k 12. And public schools in a rural district then pursued college and career in STEM opportunities, including chemical demilitarization and nuclear vitrification. Before moving into management, I'm pretty sure I

Lisa Dieker:

can't spell that by the way, but keep going.

Rohana Swihart:

So that's a good point. So those are really fancy words to say I worked on high level Department of Defense and Department of Energy projects in eastern Washington. Hanford was one of those projects if you're familiar with that nuclear reservation, I then pursued a management position in a architectural coatings company. And ultimately, that led to my fall in education in 2015, I

Rebecca Hines:

So Roh, we're so glad to have you, honestly. And we, you know, some of the things that you just mentioned, I think we don't know enough about and you just mentioned TBI, do you mind just telling our listeners a little bit about TBI and maybe, you know, just just everybody has a broad understanding. I think sometimes when we think about disability, we think about those

Rohana Swihart:

So I'm growing up and in K 12, I was an honor student and school is easy for me. And then in the during the accident, I fell through a second story floor essentially I fell 12 and a half feet and the obvious injury was a back injury, which was dealt with for three years. And ongoing right that's something you get to live with. And and not so obvious was what is called a moderate

Lisa Dieker:

Well, and before we get into all your amazing work as a teacher, I also know that you have this passion for horses. So do you want to tell them you

Rebecca Hines:

don't you stole my topic

Lisa Dieker:

I stole your question, but I would love for you to share your journey, because we are having a guest talk about service dogs, and I would love to hear your journey and relationship with horses and what that has meant in this process for you.

Rohana Swihart:

Yeah, thank you. Yeah, horses have been a big part of this process. Before my injury. I had been certified as a professional association of therapeutic horsemanship International, which is often referred to as path International, certified therapeutic riding instructor, and mentor, and I continue to hold those credentials. And I really after my fall, I really had to rely on my within the executive functions to help students in both arenas, both the equestrian arena, therapeutic riding arena and the classroom.

Rebecca Hines:

You know, that's it's really interesting to hear you mentioned, literally like the physical equipment of it. Because as an aside, and as someone you know, who has a family member who has had all kinds of physical impairment, I think it's so easy for people to forget the discomfort of the equipment that we put kids in, in our classrooms, you know, the braces, yeah, it's like,

Rohana Swihart:

I there's chairs that I can't sit in for any length of time. Because it, it just moves my body wrong. And, and often like for the first couple years, I stood for the for my first teaching job, when I fell into education in 2015. I worked from a standing desk that whole year, I don't know that I ever sat down.

Rebecca Hines:

And we've been we forget, you know, we've we've we have kids who are nonverbal in our classrooms, and even just looking for signs of discomfort in general from them. I think that that's a great reminder to us to really notice and try to try to try to be mindful of those kinds of issues kids might be having, but in terms of the therapeutic riding Roh, so a lot of our listeners, you

Rohana Swihart:

Yes. So As stated, I'm certified through path International. There are other organizations that do both therapeutic riding and equine assisted learning. gala is one of those that are more on the mental health side of the equestrian world. therapeutic riding has benefit benefits for social emotional learning, but we are not quote unquote therapists. Unless you are working with a

Rebecca Hines:

Thank you.

Lisa Dieker:

Great questions. Well, I'm gonna use my really not very much humor and trot us on over the I had to be a little cheesy, we haven't had enough giggles. For those of you who can't see us on zoom Dr. Hines covered her face completely, which was my, my intention. So anyway, Roh The other side of you we know is that you've really taking the passion of having that stem background and working on nuclear plants, and really have a mission for kids, maybe the kids that most of us would assume could not do advanced learning in the STEM areas. And that's really what your passion and

Rohana Swihart:

Sure. So starting with personal experience, when I worked in management, prior to my injury, I found it really odd how hard it was to hire an entry level person to count a 200 cash drawer cashier till, and our company had the policy that we could not give them a math test, or math assessment, if you will, for example, on the job, I'm going to hand you $300. And my total was 176.

Rebecca Hines:

So we,

Rohana Swihart:

we looked at that, quickly. Marine Sciences, right, the company I had worked for previously, their drone was originally created to keep dolphins out of tuna nuts. It also is used for more accurate polar bear counts, because drones can come in silently and don't disturb the animals and get a much more accurate count, then some person and more safe right than a person trying to get things he said. But I was surprised that you know, so many different industries that you may not think of are using that technology as well. So the more that technology is used, the more opportunity for jobs there are for students with those abilities and skills. And I think I answered the first part, but not the second part of the question. Oh, good. That

Lisa Dieker:

was perfect. That was great. That's exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.

Rebecca Hines:

And you know, Roh is now. Because we're friends, I'm going to fight you on one comment. And that's the listen. It's so it's so fun. What you've just described for us, because I don't think people are thinking about the use of drones, and thinking differently about how to apply that really what some people would think of as high tech, with basic, you know, counting. And I think

Rohana Swihart:

yeah, let me ask you this thing there. You I wish you would. So in regards to access, and I agree, I agree with your statement, they need access, right, and they can sort it out later which seal they'll need because there's millions of jobs out there that need all sorts of skills far beyond. You know what I can and and they'll need skills that for jobs that have have been made yet,

Rebecca Hines:

And I think what you're describing in a lot of ways, you know, it is about giving, giving high level access to kids of all abilities. So my final question for you is, you know, if I'm a teacher, and maybe I haven't tried any of these things, and I'm like, wow, I could I could really give my kids access to a lot more, especially in the sciences, and some of these resources you've

Rohana Swihart:

I think the first step is an interest survey, to see what types of potential careers they might be interested in. I did in my tier two classroom, we did a whole class on career awareness. And so we did a personality trait survey, a job survey, because a lot of these kids don't know about different jobs, unless it's in computers, or automobiles was my experience. And so friend of mine. who had come in and talk to us previously, I send an email out to everyone I had been in as a Hey, does anybody have a friend that works at Department of Transportation? Sure enough, somebody did. The gentleman came in, and they to use drones. And it was super exciting. And it takes like 30 minutes on a Friday, right? Like, you could use it as a break between tasks or something.

Lisa Dieker:

So so my wrap up question for you is going to be a bridge building question. You, you. You know, I agree with everyone that, you know, kids need access to algebra, and they need consumer math and algebra should be critical thinking and problem solving. And it should have a consumer aspect and, and so in the future, I'm a new teacher. And you walk into my classroom, and I'm like, I

Rohana Swihart:

First, I would say that starting starting with the thought process of my favorite quote, do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do, by John Wooden. I believe everybody has a gift, and everybody has talents. And, again, start with those because those are going to be the most interesting to them. And then look at how those link out to even jobs within your

Rebecca Hines:

Those were all great signals are great. Yeah, yeah. Well, and

Lisa Dieker:

we thank you so much for sharing your gifts and talents and your personal story. I know you found lots of things that have worked for you and have made you so successful. So thank you for that and for your vision and you shared so many great strategies for teachers. So if you have questions or when he for the follow up, please follow our Facebook at practical access, or send us a Tweet

Rohana Swihart:

Thank you