Kerstine Hart (’02) believes that with enthusiasm and the correct application of knowledge, positive changes can happen. This conviction, as well as Hart’s love for children, led her to a career in speech language pathology and to her current position of supervisor and graduate intern mentor for Nebo School District.
Hart was initially interested in the field because she had a son who struggled with speech and language as a child. She observed speech language pathologists who worked with him at Purdue University when her family was living in Indiana and Louisiana State University when they moved to Louisiana. When the family moved to Provo, she returned to BYU in search of additional ways to continue to help her son, eventually earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech language pathology.
As she continued her education in speech language pathology, Hart found her faculty mentors to be a source of inspiration. Among her supporters were Bonnie Brinton, dean of Graduate Studies for the university and professor in the Department of Communication Disorders; Martin Fujiki, professor of communication disorders; and Ann Dorais, Hart’s mentor during an internship at Geneva Elementary in Orem. An article based on Hart’s master's thesis, titled, “The Relationship Between Social Behavior and Severity of Language Impairment,” coauthored by Drs. Brinton and Fujiki, was recently published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.
Hart began working for the Nebo School District when she graduated in 2002. Her efforts there have helped children ranging from three to 18 years of age improve their communication skills. During the four years she has spent at Nebo, she has found that the most rewarding aspect of her job is getting to know the children and helping them to become better communicators.
Hart also works for Tots Learning to Communicate (TLC), a Nebo District program created to help preschoolers improve their speech. She combines her therapy with literacy skills, utilizing children’s picture books to target some phonological processes.
She includes activities that target the specific phonemes the child is working to improve. Hart also teaches parents how to work, play, and interact with their children to support the therapy. “The method is so successful because we train the parents. It’s not just about reading; it’s about being able to highlight concepts and sounds in the books. The goal is to make speech and language fun.”
Hart also loves spending time with her family. Her husband, Craig, is a professor of human development in the School of Family Life and currently an associate dean for the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. The Harts have four children and one granddaughter.