Staff Spotlight – Hali Zorb

Hali Zorb first learned the value of hard work and patience as a figure skater. When her competitive skating career ended, she took up coaching, which afforded her another important lesson.

“Coaching taught me how much support from a coach or teacher impacts a child and their willingness to try and try again until they succeed,” Hali explains. “Although I coached at all levels, I most enjoyed working with younger children. I found Speech-Language Pathology as a career option in my search to work with children in some capacity, and I knew it was what I wanted to do immediately.”

A native of Medina, Ohio, Hali earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Baldwin-Wallace College and her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Akron. While studying at Akron, she participated in a program funded by the US Department of Education that trained a small group of speech therapists to work with children who wore cochlear implants and hearing aids.

As part of the program, Hali and her classmates were required to complete special coursework and fill clinical placements, and it was the latter of these requirements that eventually led Hali to Ohio Valley Voices.

“My graduate school professor and mentor, Dr. Houston, found OVV as a clinical placement for me—my last placement prior to graduation,” Hali recalls. “I lived at Xavier University while doing my rotation at OVV toward the end of the regular school year and during the summer program.”

Like so many others, Hali got hooked on OVV during that year’s graduation ceremony. She recounts:

“I remember attending the graduation ceremony with my mom and feeling this overwhelming sense of amazement at the confident, happy students while they gave their graduation speeches. I was seeing everything I had learned was possible in grad school in real life. These kids would have opportunities like their typically hearing peers. The world was theirs!”

When OVV Executive Director Maria Sentelik offered Hali a permanent position at the end of her clinical placement, it was an easy decision to join the OVV team and put her years of training into practice.

“I started working at Ohio Valley Voices in the fall of 2014,” Hali says. “I literally graduated, moved, and started at OVV all within a week!”

Hali Zorb with her Discovery Center buddies

Hali spent her first five years at OVV serving as a Listening and Spoken Language Provider in the Discovery Center. Following that, she assumed her current role as Discovery Center Coordinator, a position she has held since 2019.

As Coordinator, Hali leads parent education, works with outside service providers and school district personnel, and collaborates with the Discovery Center staff to ensure that students reach their full potential.

Even as she juggles these responsibilities, Hali continues to find joy in watching her students learn and grow. She says the most challenging part of working at OVV is also the most rewarding: “each student is unique and requires an individualized plan that meets their needs to develop their listening and speaking skills.”

Hali has countless fond memories from her seven years at OVV, but her favorite by far is the 2018 graduation ceremony. That year, many of the students Hali taught during her 2014 clinical placement, including Jack Westerman, Katie Hodapp, and Mya Kendrick, completed their time in the program.

“Attending graduation always fills me with pride—in the students, the families, the OVV team—for all the hard work they’ve accomplished to get to that moment,” Hali says. “It is truly inspiring to witness the students use their voices so confidently during their graduation speeches and to know they are beginning a new and exciting chapter full of possibilities.”

When asked if she has a personal motto that encapsulates her life and work at OVV, Hali says, “Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’ has always inspired me to push forward, try my best, and never give up. I think it’s about being determined and resilient—and that’s how I would describe Ohio Valley Voices’ staff, students, and families.”

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