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We Are Wolf: Kelly McDonald

As we kick off Wolf’s 25th year, we can’t help but take a moment of gratitude for all of our incredible staff throughout the years. Without their passion, talent, and commitment to Complex Learners, none of what we do each day would be possible. Kelly McDonald, now in her 16th year at Wolf, is one of those very special staff members! Learn more about her in this month’s We Are Wolf interview!

1. Can you share a bit about your background and how you ended up at Wolf (including how long you’ve been at Wolf)?

I am an occupational therapist by trade. I always knew that I wanted to work in a pediatric setting but wasn’t quite sure of the geographic location. Right after college, I worked for a medical staffing company where I was able to work for short periods of time in multiple locations across the country. Through this experience, I was able to work in various settings. This is where my deep passion for working in a school developed. My last travel position brought me to Rhode Island where I met my husband and thus decided to find a place to grow roots. I am proud to say that I am now entering my 16th year at the Wolf School!

2. What is your favorite part of working at Wolf?

My favorite part is seeing the transformations within our incredible students. Many of them first come to Wolf either early in their educational career or after experiencing other settings that didn’t quite meet their needs. I love that Wolf meets children where they are because education isn’t one size fits all. It is an incredible experience to see a student first start out not knowing what kind of learner they are, disliking school, or being aware that there are endless supports to help them achieve their true potential. Having been at Wolf for an extended period has allowed me to see many students’ full Wolf journey. From their first day in lower school to accepting their 8th-grade diploma. It is truly an honor to stand back and watch them soar!

3. Can you talk a bit about your role and the overall importance of speech/OT in the classroom?

Throughout my Wolf career, I have had the privilege of holding many roles. From starting out as a classroom OT to growing into a supervisory role and now the director of clinical programs. It’s fair to say that I know Wolf inside and out. Being a therapist at Wolf is an incredible opportunity to see the impact you have on a student’s learning as well as being able to be part of the curriculum development and delivery. The role of a therapist stretches well beyond 1:1 services. The foundation of the Immersion Model© is achieving a learning-ready state. This is accomplished with the expertise of our OTs and SLPs by directly teaching self-regulation and social communication skills. Once a student feels safe in their environment, has a calm body, and can communicate their wants and needs – then learning can begin. In the role of an administrator, I love being able to train new staff and teach others about our unique teaching model. I wish that all educational institutions would adopt this approach to education.

4. What has motivated you to stay at Wolf for so many years?

After experiencing other schools and pediatric settings around the country there is no place quite like Wolf. One of the many reasons why I continue to come back is the level of support and collaboration you receive as a staff member. I am the therapist I am today because of this amazing school. I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from so many incredibly talented professionals along my journey. It truly does take a village and even as an adult learning never ceases. 

5. Can you share your favorite summer memory with us?

This summer my family went to Europe for the first time. We toured throughout London, explored castle ruins, and met some cousins for the first time in York. We also journeyed to Billund, Denmark to make our son’s dream come true by visiting the Lego House! It was an incredible adventure!

We are so grateful for Kelly’s expertise, talent, and compassion. She is a beloved member of our community and we’re lucky to have her! To learn more about other Wolf Staff, read some of our past We Are Wolf interviews!


  1. REPLY
    James A. Grenier says

    You are very fortunate to have her at Wolf School. She is very caring and dedicated.

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