Faculty Who Care
Leanne M. Rutt
Program Director, Occupational Therapy Assistant
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy, I began working in Washington D.C. in neurological rehabilitation. After one year, I moved to central PA to work at a school for children with autism and this is where I found my passion. From 2003 to 2011 I worked in various roles, including occupational therapist, special education teacher, program coordinator and occupational therapy/physical therapy supervisor at The Vista School. In 2006, I graduated from Temple University with a master’s degree in education and a special education teaching certification. I have been fortunate to work as an independent contractor as well as an outpatient pediatric occupational therapist since that time along with my work at Central Penn College. Currently, I'm enrolled in the Thomas Jefferson University Post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program with expected completing in Spring 2017. During this program I will be focusing on education in the digital age, service learning, collaborative education and physical activity in children with special abilities. I began my academic career here at Central Penn in April of 2013 and have been teaching full-time since December of 2013. I have been fortunate to speak locally on the role of occupational therapy with children with autism, school-based practice, evidence-based practice, positive behavior support in the outpatient clinic and the implications of autism for adult inpatient rehabilitation.
I am a mom to three beautiful children (one girl and two boys), married to a supportive husband, and have two playful pups and a cat at home. In my spare time I enjoy exercising, running in races and teaching Sunday school at my church. I love the beach, hiking, camping and all things outdoors. In fact, after college I spent 10 days hiking and backpacking through Utah, Nevada and Arizona. I hope to take my kids there one day soon. I started in the field of occupational therapy because I grew up riding, volunteering and working at Thorncroft Equestrian Center, a therapeutic riding facility outside of Philadelphia. It was this blessing that introduced me to working alongside people of all different abilities.
As the program director of the occupational therapy assistant program, I strive to make educational success attainable and utilize different methods of instruction. The main purpose of education is to ensure that students have mastered necessary skills but have also learned how to locate information on their own to continue the learning process. I enjoy teaching occupational therapy assistant students because our profession is always changing and new evidence is being documented daily. There are always new things to learn and students are filled with creative ideas that I incorporate into instruction. Occupational therapy practitioners believe that humans learn best by doing, and I believe that is how students learn too. My goal is to teach each student utilizing what they already know and incorporate new knowledge with real-life examples and functional case studies and field trips. At the end of my classes, I want students to feel competent that they know many answers, but also that they know where to look for more answers to their clinical questions. By incorporating lecture, discussion and hands-on activities students are able to learn and practice new skills for mastery. I encourage students to use their critical thinking skills, life experience and problem solving abilities to take ownership of their education. I know this assists student learning because I am also a life-long learner and often need to use different sources to get the answers I need. The most important aspects of my teaching are creating relationships with my students, and utilizing my enthusiasm for my profession and teaching to motivate them to learn and be their best. Occupational therapy is a growing field and assistants play a crucial role in our profession. Their ability to do their job well, ask the right questions and make the right decisions is my final goal for each student.