Staff Spotlight – Meredith Craven

Meredith Craven always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“I became a dance instructor during high school and fell deeply in love with teaching.” she explains. “I also played basketball throughout high school and college and often felt more drawn to helping peers learn the game than I did to playing the game.”

In her time as a fledgling teacher, Meredith encountered a wide array of students, but the ones she felt most connected to were those who learned in a different way, many of them with disabilities. A natural educator, Meredith wanted to understand their unique learning styles.

“It was during my time as a dance trainee that I met a little girl who was deaf,” she recounts. “I was intrigued that she could do literally everything that was asked of her without the ability to hear, which in dance class I just took for granted.”

After high school, Meredith, who was born and raised in Newport, Rhode Island, attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in Education for Persons with Hearing Loss while continuing to dance and play basketball.

Following her graduation from IUP, Meredith earned a master’s degree in Deaf Education from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She immediately took a job as a Listening and Spoken Language Provider at Children’s Choice for Hearing and Talking (CCHAT), a program in San Diego founded on the same oral education (or “option school”) model as OVV.

While working at CCHAT, Meredith witnessed firsthand the impact of oral education, and the experience cemented her passion for the unique teaching methodology. “I knew that working in an option school was my best chance at truly helping children with hearing loss learn to listen and talk,” she says.

When Meredith came across a job opening at OVV in 2008, she jumped at the opportunity, eager to continue the important early intervention work she had done for CCHAT at a new program in a new city.

“The ideology behind the school, its commitment to providing data-driven services, its focus on building strong connections with parents, the outcomes of the students—these are just some of the factors that drew me to Ohio Valley Voices,” she says.

It didn’t hurt that Meredith had a personal connection to Cincinnati, as well. “My parents were both born and raised in Ohio, and my grandmother lived right up the road from OVV,” she says. “When I saw the job posting, I thought it might be fate.”

Meredith Craven with her husband Chris and son Weston

At OVV, Meredith worked for five years as a Listening and Spoken Language Provider before becoming Special Services Coordinator, a position that eventually evolved into her current role as Director of Special Services.

“As Director of Special Services, my key responsibility is to act as the liaison between school districts and Ohio Valley Voices,” she explains. “I also act as the support personnel for families as they embark on their time here at OVV and as they exit our program into the mainstream world.”

Meredith’s work at OVV has blessed her with more wonderful memories than she can count. Forced to choose a favorite, though, she cites her first class’s graduation ceremony. “To know I had even the slightest part in helping those kiddos find their voices is truly amazing to me, even today!” she says.

More than ten years after joining OVV, Meredith remains as impassioned as ever about her work in the program—and the organization’s mission as a whole.

“I have been so blessed to work with my colleagues and the families of Ohio Valley Voices,” she says. “I wake up every day knowing I have one of the best jobs in the world.”

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