As we get ready to enter the new year, we’re continuing with our introduction of new staff members with our monthly We Are Wolf interviews! Today, we’d like to introduce you to Katrina Karpeichik, an Occupational Therapist in Rooms 4 & 6.
1. Can you briefly tell us about your background?
I was born and raised in Rhode Island. I first went to URI where I majored in Health Studies with a focus on Health Promotion and Human Development and Family Studies. During one of my summer internships, one of my research tasks was to look into all of the different departments within a healthcare company, and that’s how I first discovered occupational therapy. From there, I did more research to gain a better understanding of the field and knew that this is what I wanted to do. It would allow me to combine my love for science with a creative twist and I could work with people of all different ages. I wanted to get into this field as soon as possible, so I decided to take the route of becoming a COTA first through New England Institute of Technology’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program. During my OTA program, I actually completed my final fieldwork rotation at Wolf! I was then able to work as a pediatric COTA for two years in a public elementary and middle school while attending NEIT to get my master’s in OT. Throughout my master’s program, I continued to come back to Wolf to work at Camp Confidence.
2. What made you interested in pursuing OT in a school setting?
What I love about OT in a school setting is that we are working with a child on essential skills in a natural environment. As OTs, we are trained to look at the different roles we all participate in and the skills necessary to fulfill and complete the tasks and demands within each role. Working in a school, I am able to focus on a child’s role as a student and understand their strengths and needs so they are best able to complete all of the tasks we expect of a student. For example, if a child is struggling with fine motor skills, then I can target the functional tasks that those skills are required for within the school day, such as handwriting. Rather than just having a child work on strengthening these skills and working on handwriting once or twice a week with a therapist, I am able to work on this in their natural environment – the classroom! In the classroom, these skills are required every day so it helps to bridge any potential gaps so children can better generalize the skills we are working on as we naturally use them within their school day.
3. What have been some of your favorite classroom activities that you’ve been involved in this year?
I love any opportunity for hands-on activities, which happen all the time at Wolf! Throughout the month of December, one of my classrooms has been focusing on culture and traditions that occur around the world. Each week we’ve been able to create a special craft to go along with the country we are learning about, which really brings the culture and traditions to life in our classroom. So far we’ve been able to make beautiful Diwali paper diyas from India, vibrant and fun Carnival masks from Brazil, and colorful Kenyan-style necklaces. These activities have been such a fun way to further connect to different cultures while also working on SO many skills! Another classroom activity I have loved is the “Teach the Teacher” project Kristyn and I have been doing during SPOT-On. With this, we have completely reversed our classroom roles with the students. Each student was able to pick a subject they are passionate about and create a fun PowerPoint that they presented to their teachers and classmates, along with the special skill. From our students, we’ve learned how to bake oatmeal cookies, draw Pokemon characters and even some hockey skills!
4. What is your favorite thing about Wolf so far?
I love it all! I love the team approach that we take to learning so that we can ensure each student is able to thrive as a learner. Constantly having other professionals around me to collaborate with has allowed me to grow as a practitioner and truly ensures we are setting all of our students up for success across all domains. The students then take it to the next level and make each day so fun – as much as we focus on building so many great skills these children never fail to make me laugh while doing it.
5. What are your plans for the holiday break?
My plans for the holiday break include finding a balance between relaxing and spending time with my family and friends. One thing that I love to do each year is bake cookies with my mom, sister, and best friend. We have been doing this together for years and it is always such a fun day filled with a lot of baking, decorating, and making memories!
Welcome to Wolf, Katrina! Your passion and talent have already made such a difference in our classrooms and we are thrilled to have you here! Want to read more? Check out past We Are Wolf interviews!