MEET YOUR COACH: Stephanie Goodman

Meet Your Coach: Stephanie Goodman


At the PEWC you know her as the little Dynamo and If you know her well, then you know her answers aren’t going to be short and sweet. She is a magnificent storyteller and has a heart of gold!

PEWC: Tell me a little about yourself and Who would you say is your hero/role model and why?

SG: Role models? Ah, those mentors who have impacted my life’s journey and recognized a potential in me I never could have imagined. I’m afraid this is going to be a long answer as I still find it hard to comprehend that I, a "small town girl" , have three degrees, and am a certified occupational therapy assistant and work with people with PD at the PEWC.

My hometown, Clyde is a small rural town in NE Ohio. When I lived there, Clyde had several mom and pop businesses, the Five and Dime, Steve’s NewsStand, a bowling alley, a bakery, several churches, the public school and the parochial school, St. Mary’s, which I attended. The sisters at St. Mary’s were my first mentors, encouraging my love of singing and on occasion, even excusing me from school to sing for a funeral. We attended mass every morning before class and I would “belt out” the hymns. I was the little girl who literally sang my prayers from the tree in my backyard. Though we had no formal music classes, my spirit thrived on song and imaginative play. ( Hang in there, this is pertinent to my PD coach journey). The first musical I saw was on television, “Gypsy.” Years later, in the 9th grade, I attended my first live play at a small barn theatre about 20 miles from our home. I was mesmerized! Shortly thereafter, I auditioned for and was cast in a children’s theatre production of Snow White. I was the oldest kid in the cast and got the role of a flower! A FLOWER! I was so disappointed and wanted to quit but my mom wouldn’t have it. Commitment was a big thing. There were more plays to come, and I got bigger roles. My mom, who emphasized commitment, was my first role model. She herself demonstrated her love for me by committing to driving me to rehearsals, 40 minutes each way, five times a week, for four plus years.

I learned more about theatre and eventually got a paying acting gig in a musical melodrama at Cedar Point Amusement Park where over one summer, we performed our show 610 times. There was that commitment thing again. We had no understudies and shows were performed despite sunburns, food poisoning and general exhaustion.

In my twenties I was a bit of a free spirit and found opportunities to travel. (Still pertinent to my evolution as a coach!). I spent a month in Hawaii with a friend who married a Marine. Now remember I was a small town girl who had never travelled more than a few towns over. I had no idea that $60 in spending money wouldn’t go very far on the big island, so I collected puca and sand shells, made necklaces and sold them to marines. Those were great times.

The next summer I travelled to Perugia, Italy and stayed for a month with my older brother who was there studying medicine. Higher education was free in Italy, however there was one glitch, my brother had to learn and then study medicine in Italian. With my brother, I learned that with hard work, even with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, a person could achieve great things.

Oh, I wasn’t done travelling yet. On a very cold and dreary winter day in December, I, on a whim, convinced a girlfriend to move to Daytona Beach for the winter and then, in the early 80’s I followed a friend to Gainesville, Florida. In Gainesville I met my two most cherished mentors and role models.

Though Gainesville is a college town I never imagined attending college there, or anywhere. After all, college was for persons wanting to become doctors or lawyers and that certainly wasn’t in my future. However, in Gainesville, a friend of a friend introduced me to a small-bit director who needed an actor to play a naïve small town girl in a video project. Talk about type casting! That project led to a role in a children’s musical, (directed by the same “somewhat unscrupulous” director). The play was held in the dead end of a dying mall with meager patrons in attendance. By happenstance, after a performance (with an audience of about 10 people), a professional director, Margaret Bachus approached me and invited me to join her educational theatre company. Through Margaret’s passion, direction and mentorship I learned about play-writing, the core principles of acting, the importance of honesty in acting, toured with highly skilled actors and earned the coveted actor’s equity (union) card. But it gets better! With Margaret’s recommendation, at age 26, I was awarded a theatre scholarship in the University of Florida’s Fine Arts division. However, I had a big hurdle. I had to pass the S.A.T. Now remember, I hadn’t ever planned on attending college and hadn’t prepared with my high school classes. My dearest friend, Imogene Clark, a kindergarten teacher with a love of learning came to the rescue. With Imogene I spent countless hours joyfully learning as I expanded vocabulary. I took the entrance exam and did quite well in vocabulary and composition however failed miserably in math and the sciences. I had never taken algebra or advanced sciences.

A meeting was scheduled with the dean of admissions. He noted my scores, however said that he “saw something in me” and believed I could be successful. This girl from Clyde, Ohio who never planned for college, was granted “special admittance” into the Fine Arts College at the University of Florida. The dean wasn’t a mentor, however he changed the course of my life. Because he believed I could achieve success, I learned to believe in myself as well. I graduated with a 3.4 GPA. Post undergrad I received a full scholarship to The University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. There, another opportunity arose, that of teaching and directing young actors, ages 5-19, in the drama division of CCM's renown Preparatory Department. This was my first role as an educator and I eventually took over as head of the drama division of CCM Prep. I focused on "honesty" in acting and shared the college-level acting exercises that I was learning as a student. But I also learned something new, Creative Dramatics, a free-form, playful and exploratory approach to acting. Little did I know that my new skill set would lead to my developing PARTE™-Parkinson’s Art of Expression, a one-of-a-kind class I developed to target the non-motor symptoms of PD.

In Cinti (Cincinnati) I met my husband Mick and family life began. We have two beautiful children, Gabe and Sarah and I am a first-time grandmother to Kenneth-Shawn. Mick's occupation as a print broker/project manager took many turns. We lived in Shawnee Mission, KS, then the suburbs of Phili, (where I trained as a yoga instructor) and eventually we moved back to KC when Mick took a role as project manager with corporate Hallmark. In KC. My role as a mom took priority however, I continued as an arts-educator running drama camps and serving as artist-in-residence, and for about four years directed musicals for Center Middle School.

With each new adventure/role I was acquiring skills, ( like teaching group classes and "thinking on my feet") which prepared me for my role as a coach at the PEWC. By saying "yes" to opportunities as they arose, I was learning, growing and stretching my skillset beyond anything I could have dreamed for myself.

By 2012 our children had grown and I was up for another challenge. A friend told me about occupational therapy and that it was offered locally. As I listened and learned I realized that OT was a good fit for me, however it would mean I had to take some heavy-duty left-brain prerequisites to get into the highly competitive program. I began taking the required classes, worked extensively with tutors and in 2014 I was accepted into Metropolitan Community College's OTA program. Though classes and the schedule were often brutal, I thrived on learning and discovered that I am a neuro-nerd and am enthralled with the science of anatomy, kinesiology and the wonders of the human brain. For two years, as a non-traditional older student in my fifties, I tackled the demands of a two-year associates degree in applied science.

My last year of schooling involved intense fieldwork with real patients rather than lectures and book study. My first eight week intensive was with Heather Pollack, my clinical educator at a skilled nursing and rehab facility. Heather stressed the value of meaningful occupations, treatment interventions which would inspire our patients to persevere. On one occasion, I shared with Heather that our disheartened and unmotivated patient missed fishing. Heather promptly cleared the facility's dining area and retrieved a fishing rod from her car's trunk with hopes of inspiring the patient. That day I witnessed how a meaningful activity, (like casting a rod with a weighted line at targets) could instill hope and healing in an otherwise apathetic patient. This gentleman not only gained strength, stamina and balance but also found joy in an otherwise depressing circumstance. I think of Heather often and strive to include meaningful activities with hopes that they too will inspire and elicit a renewed sense of playfulness and pride in our patrons at the PEWC.

My final clinical rotation was at St. Luke's outpatient rehab and included a strong caseload of clients with neurological conditions. I was gifted to work closely with Sarah, a PT who needed a "spare set of hands" while working with a patient who had suffered a stroke. Alongside Sarah, I observed as she, and eventually I, with gentle coaxing hand-placement, led this gentleman to improved balance and gait. I also learned a great deal from Amanda, my clinical educator who patiently mentored and challenged me to create not only meaningful but also evidence-based interventions to help out patients regain upper mobility function post surgery.

In 2016 I graduated, passed the state boards and began searching for job placement with an emphasis on neurological conditions and sensory integration. I struggled to find a setting where I could use my OT skills in a manner that would utilize my skill sets and passion for neurological conditions. Then, while listening to NPR I heard my soon-to-be mentor, the passionate and brilliant Sarrissa Curry describing her work with PwP and Rock Steady Boxing. I arranged a meeting with Sarrisa and she suggested I visit the center to see if I was the right fit for the center and if my intentions were altruistic. I spent the next four months observing, volunteering and learning. When she felt I was ready Sarrisa welcomed me on board. I trained and became a Rock Steady Boxing coach and a certified therapist-level Parkinson's Wellness Recovery trainer.

Sarrisa has continued to mentor and challenge me, as others have in my past, something in me that I had not even imagined. Sarrisa challenged me to create PARTE™-Parkinson’s Art of Expression class to target the motor and non-motor symptoms of PD via acting movement and vocal techniques.

Sarrisa and I continue to challenge and mentor each other. We have enrolled in and committed to a mentorship program, the Neurospark Network, under the mentorship of the highly sought-after motivator and neuro-developmental specialist, Dr. J.J. Mowder. Dr. Mowder and a worldwide community of therapists and persons who serve the PD community have dedicated the next year to an online and in-person training program. The Neurospark community's goal is that, through higher-learning and collaboration we may bring enhanced hope and health to the PD communities we serve.

This is a bit about me and these are my treasured mentors. Sadly, I have just recently lost two. I share this in honor of Imogene Clark and Margaret Bachus.

PEWC: Thank you Stephanie, your response clearly shows us your committed passion to learn and grow in the Neuro field and desire to continue to help in the fight against PD. The Fighters are blessed to have you in their corner.

PEWC: For fun if you could be an animal, what animal would you be and why?

SG: No clue!

PEWC: Well, I see you as a sweet little kitten pouncing around full of energy and then napping on a lap, purring away giving your love and comfort to those that need you. I don’t see you as a full grown cat--because we all know! The majority can be pretty ornery and not always friendly.

PEWC: What is your motto in life?

SG: Motto I have two... 1.) say "yes" to learning exercises/opportunities even though you aren't 100% confident about your abilities. 2) learn from someone who is more skilled (than you) , and after you learn (whatever it is they taught you), reinforce learning by teaching someone. Ex: Sarrisa teaches me something and I teach a fieldwork student.

PEWC: Can you tell me of a memorable moment during your training sessions with your client/clients here at the PEWC?

SG: Oh my goodness, too many to mention! Every day with my fighters at the gym creates memorable moments.

PEWC: What would you want people to know about the Fighters at the PEWC?

SG: I would want people to know that our fighters inspire ME more than I could ever inspire them. Their grit, tenacity and passion to be whole and healthy far exceed mine.