INSPIRATION SERIES #2: An Alumni Love Story...Janet and Ben Gleason

Here's a perfect Spring story for the second in our Alumni Inspiration Series. We're pleased to introduce two CDSS [SLHS] alumni who met and fell in love in our favorite building on our favorite hill overlooking our favorite campus. Meet Ben and Janet Gleason. We have their story straight from one-half of the lucky union, fellow alum Janet (Blessinger) Gleason, '97. 

Janet: When I was in grad school, professors would post final grades using our social security numbers (“for confidentiality” ha!) on the CDSS [SLHS] building windows as you entered the side door. That way you could check your final grade even when the building was closed for break. I had come to the CDSS building to check on my final grades in May, and Ben was coming to check out the building because he would be entering the program in August. He was in the area looking for housing. He couldn’t get in the building because it was locked and I was standing right there so we started talking. He still laughs that I gave him my number in case he had any questions while he was visiting but immediately told him not to call me because my brother was coming into town so I would be too busy to talk to him. (This was before cell phones!) Later when we had the Back to School CDSS picnic, we remembered each other and again started talking. We bonded over our Midwestern upbringing and our vegetarianism. We both had previous degrees in psychology and had goals to do the three-year graduate program, so we connected over similar classes and interests.
I remember we were both in Peter Ramig’s Stuttering class. One of the first assignments was to do pseudostuttering in public and write about reactions and feelings. A group of us went to Pearl Street together for the assignment. I also remember when I did the CLC practicum and was working with Sue McCord using the Storybook Journey. We were doing the Frog and Toad Button story, and Sue told me that she had seen a preschool teacher make a large version of the story with pictures on the front and the words on the back of large poster-sized pages. I wanted to surprise her, so I made one for our CLC group that week. Ben helped me color in the drawings and I still use the book we made today with my younger students. I also have memories of us studying cranial nerves while Ben and I sat by Boulder Creek. 
Another one of my favorite CDSS memories is working with my roommate Amy Thrasher on an articulation video we made for Betty Jancoseck’s articulation class. We went around making other grad students do the “cha cha” for the CH sound for one part of the video. We thought it was hilarious, but I don’t think the other students did.
There you have it and from those beginnings Ben and Janet acted on their plans for successful careers and a family. Janet graduated from CU in 1997 and worked in pediatric rehab at The Children’s Hospital in Denver and Boulder Community Hospital. They moved to St. Louis in 2000 to be closer to family, and Janet started working for Special School District of St. Louis. She has been working at the same elementary school in suburban St. Louis ever since.
Janet: My school has a program for medically fragile students with intensive communication needs, which I have loved working with and developing over the years. Augmentative communication has been one of my passions since graduate school at CU. I love working with an augmentative communication caseload along with an ever-changing group of students with a variety of needs. Every year I get to learn new things and grow. I have also been passionate about supervising graduate students. I love giving them real-life school SLP experiences and I feel like it challenges me to explain why I do what I do. Their questions make me a better therapist.
Ben graduated from CU in 1998 and worked in schools for Adams 14 School District for a couple of years before moving to St. Louis in 2000. He started working for Special School District of St. Louis County as a speech-language pathologist. Eventually he became an effective practice specialist in speech-language pathology for the district, providing support for the hundreds of SLPs that work for Special School District and worked on making connections with the large Bosnian community in the St. Louis area. He has been working as a special education coordinator for the past nine years. His latest passions are self-determination, student-led IEPs, and the inclusion of students with special needs in green education. 
We both loved hiking, camping, and snowshoeing in Colorado and try to get back to Colorado as often as we can with our children. We have three daughters, ages 10, 12, and 14. One of our daughters is on the autism spectrum, and being on the other side of the diagnostic and IEP process was eye opening for us. We have enjoyed sharing our love of the outdoors with our girls through camping, hiking, gardening, and road trips to national parks.
Best wishes to Janet, Ben, and family! Thank you for sharing this lovely story. 
Cynthia Gray for CU-Boulder SLHS/CDSS Alumni Website