Who We Are
The School-Based Therapy Services division of Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) in Houston, Texas is the organizational home of TxSpot. The division supports the educational needs of struggling learners in and around Houston, working in partnership with independent school districts and charter schools. In 2016, over 160 occupational therapy, physical therapy and music therapy practitioners served students throughout and around Harris County.
TxSpot content, including responses to inquiries submitted through Ask TxSpot, is developed by members of the leadership team of the School-Based Therapy Services Division, featured below.
Meet the TxSpot Staff
Jean Polichino, OTR, MS, FAOTA
Jean has worked in early intervention and school practice for nearly 30 years. She has presented nation-wide and contributed to numerous publications on evidence-based therapy practices in early intervention and schools. She is a former Presiding Officer of the Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners, is a past chairperson of the Early Intervention and Schools Special Interest Section of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., and currently represents related services on the Texas Continuous Improvement Steering Committee for the Texas Education Agency.
Amy Collins, OTR, MOT
Amy has 19 years of experience as a school-based occupational therapist and manager. She has been asked to consult with various school districts and educational service centers across the state of Texas and has presented on a variety of topics related to school-based practice at local and national conferences. She has authored many articles, including one regarding research on weighted vests in which she was Principal Investigator. She serves as an editor for the Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, has served on various AOTA work groups, and is a reviewer for AOTA conference proposals.
Carie Crabb, PT, MS
Carie is a physical therapist with over 25 years of experience in school-based practice and early intervention. She has worked for the past 11 years as a manager in the school-based therapy services division managing occupational therapists, physical therapists and music therapists in suburban and rural school districts and an early childhood intervention program. She also serves as the physical therapy Coordinator of Clinical Education, coordinating school-based field work experiences for physical therapy and physical therapist assistant students.
Laura McFarland, OTR, MOT
Laura has 13 years of service delivery and leadership in the field working in early intervention and school-based practice. She has recently brought her client-focused perspective to the School-Based Therapy Services management team. Her special interests and skills are in medical conditions, genetic syndromes, feeding disorders, splint-making, literacy, and social justice.
Melinda McGouldrick, OTR, MOT
Melinda has worked in multiple areas of practice over the past 30 years, always involved in some aspect of the occupations and challenges of childhood and adolescence. After many years as director of therapy services in acute care and rehabilitation hospitals, she joined the management team at HCDE, developing an appreciation for the role therapists play on the collaborative team in order to optimize the participation of students in school environments. Melinda coordinates school-based fieldwork opportunities for professional students in occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs.
Janice (Jan) Toyota OTR, MS
Jan has 38 years of occupational therapy experience working with children, youth, adults and families including many years in school-based practice and in early intervention. Her other work environments have included hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practice and day care settings. She has served as staff therapist, manager and director. She views the individual within the context of their environment, family system and community.
Denice Tucker, OTR
Denice has over 30 years of experience as a clinician and manager of therapy services in public schools. She has supported individuals and collaborative teams in large and small school districts as well as charter schools, promoting a best practice model.
Bernice Valenzuela, OTR
Bernice has 36 years of experience working as an occupational therapist in the role of clinician and manager. Her work experience includes inpatient mental health and school-based practice. She enjoys collaborating and partnering with the various school districts to meet the needs of their students.
Anne H. Watson, OTR, PhD
Anne has over 25 years of experience in school-based practice, including management and special education coordination in five different states. She has published articles about outcomes in assistive technology in a school setting. Anne has also taught occupational therapy entry level masters students various subjects including pediatric interventions and school-based documentation. Additionally, she serves on the Roster of Accreditation Evaluators on the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).
Janine Calmes, PT, MS
Janine has over 35 years of experience as a physical therapist in multiple settings including acute care, rehabilitation, out-patient, home health, long-term acute care, skilled nursing and most recently, school practice. She has worked in a gait and motion analysis laboratory where she had the opportunity to participate in many research projects and to present at local and national conferences. She has co-authored research articles, abstracts, and posters, some as principle investigator. Along with her district service delivery assignment, Janine works behind the scenes supporting TxSpot’s web design and content.