​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​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
 
Carie Crabb, PT, MS
Senior Director
Carie is a physical therapist with over 28 years of experience in school-based practice and early intervention.  She currently holds the position of Senior Director over School-Based Therapy Services at Harris County Department of Education.  Prior to serving as the division’s director, she served as a School-Based Therapy Services manager for 12 years, managing occupational therapists, physical therapists and music therapists in suburban and rural school districts and an early childhood intervention program.  Carie's current responsibilities involve administration of the School-Based Therapy Services division, including contract management, division budget management, personnel management, and practice management. Carie currently serves on the Texas Occupational Therapy Association School Focus Advisory Board and on Texas Continuing Improvement Steering Committee.

Leah Alba, PT, DPT

Manager

Leah, received her B.S. in physical therapy in 1989 from Southwestern University, Cebu City, Philippines. She completed her transitional doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas in 2013. Leah has worked as a physical therapist in multiple practice settings, but has been part of Harris County Department of Education since 2000 where she initially worked in Early Childhood Intervention before moving to School-Based Therapy Services. She now serves as a Manager within School-Based Therapy Services, managing PTs, PTAs, OTs, OTA, and music therapists in a local school district. She is a Texas Physical Therapy Association Tom Waugh Leadership Development Program Fellow and currently serves on the Texas Occupational Therapy Association School Focus Group Advisory Board .​

​Amy Collins, OTR, MOT

Manager

Amy has over 20 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 to provide program evaluation and training. She has presented on a variety of topics related to school-based practice at local and national conferences. Amy 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.

Traci Gault, OTR, MOT

Manager

Traci began her 18-year career in the field of occupational therapy as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA), eventually returning to school to earn her Master's degree in occupational therapy. Traci has worked in a variety of settings including rehabilitation centers, inpatient mental health, pain management clinic, home health, and schools. She has worked as a school-based therapist for the past 9 years. During her time working as a school-based therapist, Traci was a member of the assistive technology team and part of the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (now called Early Childhood Special Education) team.  While on the team, she participated in arena play-based assessments for children transitioning from Early Childhood Intervention (ECI). She recently joined the management team for School-Based Therapy Services at HCDE.  Traci has an interest in mental health and leads the mental health leadership group at HCDE. 
 
Laura McFarland, OTR, MOT
Manager
Laura has 17 years of service delivery and leadership in the field working in early childhood intervention and in school-based practice.  Laura joined the HCDE School-Based Therapy Services management team several years ago and supports both urban and rural school districts. She also coordinates school-based fieldwork opportunities for occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant professional students. Laura has additional interests in adapting and modifying materials and the environment to promote student success.
                             
Melinda McGouldrick, OTR, MOT
Manager
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.  
        
Holly Shafer, OT, MOT
Manager
Holly has been an occupational therapist for 22 years, the last eight of which have been in school-based practice at Harris County Department of Education (HCDE). She recently joined the management team for School-Based Therapy Services at HCDE. Holly’s previous experience includes acute care, neonatal ICU, home health, inpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing.  Holly embraces the holistic approach on which occupational therapy is founded and incorporates that perspective throughout all aspects of her professional and personal life. Her areas of interest include mental health, Universal Design for Learning, and mentoring OT students and new OT graduates. 
 
Pam Shaw, OTR
Manager
Pam has been an occupational therapist for 31 years. She started her career working in a highly respected rehabilitation facility where she developed her knowledge in the area of seating/positioning and mobility. Pam took that knowledge and transitioned to medical equipment sales where she used her expertise in the provision of manual and power wheelchairs as well as custom designed seating systems to a variety of hospitals and seating clinics throughout the Houston Medical Center and greater Houston area. Pam has worked the last 9 years in school-based practice, serving as a manager during 4 of those 9 years.
 

Denise Tucker, OTR

Manager​


Denice has over 38 years of experience as both an occupational therapist and manager working in public schools throughout Texas, but primarily in the Gulf Coast area.  She promotes a best practice model and supports both large and small districts/charter schools to follow related services guidelines for both OT, PT and music therapy.

 
Bernice Valenzuela, OTR
Manager 
Bernice has 37 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.
 
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Janine Calmes, PT, MS
TxSpot Support
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Janine has over 40 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 now, school practice. She has worked in a gait and clinical 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 and serves as the physical therapy Coordinator of Clinical Education, coordinating school-based field work experiences for physical therapy and physical therapist assistant students.