Caring for Our Kids - Meet Our OT/PT Staff!
The Occupational and Physical Therapy staff work in tandem to improve the gross and fine motor abilities of our students with special needs in order to improve functioning within the educational setting.
Dr. Yvonne Cosentino - OT (Occupational Therapist) at BES/GIS/GMS
Dr. Yvonne Cosentino (pictured standing) was hired at Ball-Chatham in August 2019 to serve as an Occupational Therapist at Ball Elementary School, Glenwood Intermediate School, and Glenwood Middle School.
She graduated from Maria High School, Chicago, Illinois in 1981, where she excelled in track and field - she was ranked second in the state of Illinois for the high school long jump in 1981. She continued her studies at Chicago State University, graduating Magna Cume Laude, and earning her degree in Occupational Therapy in 1988. While at Chicago State, she was a member of the Track team and competed at the national level in the high jump. In addition, she completed all coursework and case study submissions to become Ayres Sensory Integration Certified.
In 2012, she earned her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy/Pediatric Science degree from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo Utah.
Prior to joining Ball-Chatham, she served as an Occupational Therapist for 32 years in the Chicago Public School district, Cicero-Berwyn School District, Marion County Florida School District, Springfield School district #186, and The Early Intervention program in Springfield. She also serves as the Director of OT for the Illinois School for the Deaf and the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, in Jacksonville, Illinois.
In addition to her work for our District, she works part-time in adult and geriatric rehab facilities throughout central Illinois. She also performs periodic professional education programs across the state related to sensory integration and strategies to promote success for children and youth with emotional and behavioral disorders.
About her work for Ball-Chatham, she says, “I love being able to work with so many people in a variety of settings with the mutual goal of developing skills for a brighter, stronger, and more independent future.”
As much as she enjoys her profession, it doesn’t come without challenges. “The field of occupational therapy has exponentially grown and developed as a profession since its founding in 1917. The challenge is to ensure that our profession continues to be recognized as a valuable intervention to support people in their quest for independence across the lifespan.”
Dr. Cosentino has a long list of awards/recognitions and accomplishments, for which she, and our District, are very proud, including: being certified by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association and American Hippotherapy Association; and being chosen to present three times at The Illinois Occupational Therapy State Conference.
Yvonne is married to Brian Wayda and has two children, George and Jacob. On her own time, she enjoys spending time with family; traveling as often as she can to visit her cousins in Ireland and England; and working with her animals (dogs, cats, chickens, and horses)!
Mariah Eilerman - OT (Occupational Therapist) at CES/GES/GHS
Mariah was hired in February 2018 to serve as an Occupational Therapist at Chatham Elementary School, Glenwood Elementary School, and Glenwood High School. Prior to joining our District, she worked as an OT in rehabilitation and long-term care settings.
Mariah graduated high school from Calhoun High School in Hardin, Illinois. She then went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2009.
About her chosen profession, she says, “Occupational therapy is a very rewarding profession, as we get to facilitate individualized growth, development, and independence for our clients/students, no matter the setting of OT. Getting to focus on what is important and purposeful to each individual we work with, makes every day different and makes us, as clinicians, always having to challenge and grow, ourselves. School-based OT has always been my dream since graduating from OT school. The kids bring so much joy and challenge me to always learn more, to work to be a better OT every day. Watching our students hit new milestones, be successful in their daily functional and school-based activities, and achieve tasks they have worked so hard towards both in OT and in the classroom makes me happy and grateful I chose to be an OT.”
Mariah is married to Drew, and together they have two children, Audrey (4) and Gus (2). On her own time, she enjoys camping, traveling, gardening, landscaping, being outdoors, and spending time with family/family gatherings.
Megan Corlas - COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) at BES/GIS
Megan has served as a COTA at Ball Elementary School and Glenwood Intermediate School since January 2020. Prior to working for the District, she worked as an accountant for Canny Accounting in Chatham, where she performed auditing and tax work.
Megan graduated from Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in 2008. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in accountancy from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2012 and 2013, respectively. She then enrolled in the Lincoln Land Community College’s OTA program and graduated in 2019.
Megan says she enjoys working with children and being able to use creative, fun strategies to help them overcome the challenges they face in school.
She is married to Max, and says she enjoys singing in her church choir, playing recreational softball, and going to watch musicals, on her own time.
Christina Murphy - COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant)
Christina (pictured on the right) has served as a COTA at Ball Elementary School since January 2020. She is originally from Louisville, Kentucky, and graduated high school from Presentation Academy in 2003. She went on to study at Eastern Kentucky University and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2007. In 2009, she earned her Associate’s degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant from Jefferson Community College.
Prior to joining Ball-Chatham, she worked in Early Intervention for Sangamon Co., and St. John’s Hospital. Prior to living in Springfield, she worked in various settings in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
“I love that in Occupational Therapy you can incorporate what the individual enjoys into sessions while working towards independence in functional tasks,” she says. “This has allowed easier transitions into virtual sessions.” Christina says that the best part of her work is that she has the opportunity to be creative and think outside the box.
Christina is married to Bobby and has three children: Ethan, Patrick, and Tucker. On her own time, she likes to run, sew, and do crafts with the Cricut.
Peg Newby - COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) at GES
Peg was hired as a full-time COTA in April 2010. She currently serves at Glenwood Elementary School. Prior to her employment at Ball-Chatham, she worked for SASED for 10 years but was quite familiar with our District, as she was assigned during that time to service Ball-Chatham schools.
Peg graduated from Beckman Catholic High School, then attended Kirkwood Community College, earning her Associate’s degree as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant in 1993.
About her profession, she says she loves working with children and helping them learn new things. She also loves seeing their smile as they succeed!
Peg is married to Les, and has two children: Mitch, age 19, and Maggie, age 16. On her own time, she enjoys working in her yard, spending time with family, and making cards.
Alicia Hawkins - COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) at CES/GMS
Alicia began at Ball-Chatham in December 2015 as a COTA at Chatham Elementary School and Glenwood Middle School. Prior to working for Ball-Chatham, she worked for the State of Illinois at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) on the CHIPRA grant (Child Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act).
Alicia is a graduate of Greenfield High School, Class of 2005. From there, she studied at McKendree University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training and a minor in Sports Psychology in 2009. She went on to earn her Master’s degree in Public Health from UIS in 2011. Thereafter, she enrolled at Lincoln Land Community College, and in 2014 earned her Associate’s degree in Applied Science - Occupational Therapy Assistant.
About her profession, she says she loves occupational therapy, especially in the school setting, because she enjoys collaborating with the teachers, staff, and other related service providers to ensure that each student is successful in his/her school environment. She believes the biggest challenge in occupational therapy is that there is no “cookie-cutter approach” to the work they do, since each child has different needs, and a plan must be developed to fit each of their individualized sessions.
Alicia is married to Drew, and together they have two sons: Rowan, age 5; and River, age 3. Her most favorite thing to do is plan and go on hiking trips with her husband and sons!
Brenda Vail - PT (Physical Therapist) at All Schools
The Ball-Chatham School District hired Mrs. Brenda Vail in May 2010 as a part-time Physical Therapist. Due to increased student needs, she transitioned to full-time employment with the District in 2011.
She serves in all of our schools. Prior to joining our District, she worked as a Physical Therapist at: Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois; at Jayne Shover Easter Seals in Elgin, Illinois. She also worked as a Pediatric Physical Therapist at HSHS St. John’s Hospital, and as a Physical Therapist at the Rochester School District.
Brenda graduated in 1984 from St. Charles High School, St. Charles, Illinois. She then graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy in 1988. In order to serve her students better, she studied and received Assistive Technology Certification. She is also certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician and has additional training in special needs child passenger safety.
She says that she likes the fact that she gets to interact with a wide variety of people. “I am able to help people of all ages become the best version of themselves,” says Brenda. “I love being active, and I share that love for movement with the children and adults I work with. I also like that no two workdays are ever the same.”
In discussing the challenges of her profession, she says, “There is only one of me to provide physical therapy services to the entire Ball-Chatham School District. Often times what I am requesting a person to do is difficult and I need to come up with a way to make hard work fun and rewarding. I am very accustomed to using my hands or actions and not verbal directions to get the people I work with to participate. I also make changes to activities by watching how people participate. Trying to provide virtual physical therapy services has been one of the most difficult challenges I have had to face.”
Brenda is married to Michael and has two daughters, Nicole, and Emily; a son-in-law, Aaron; and one granddaughter, Adeline. On her own time, she enjoys running, biking, triathlons, yoga, sewing, and gardening.
Amy Shoemaker - Physical Therapy Assistant
Amy was hired in September 2020 to serve as a Physical Therapy Assistant at each of our schools. Prior to joining our District, she joins our team after 16 years of serving patients at Memorial Medical Center and is currently serving students in the area through Sangamon Area Special Education District (SASED).
Amy graduated from New Berlin High School in 2001, and received her Associate’s in Applied Science, Physical Therapy Assistant, from Lakeland College in 2004.
About her profession, she says she enjoys working with the students to gain the most functional mobility in their school. “Each day I can be creative to make therapy fun!” she says.
Amy is married to Gene, and has three children: Maycee, Will, and Paisley. On her own time, she enjoys spending time with family, and arts and crafts.