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Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA).

Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurology, Dessoye founded, designed and is co-owner of BBELA, a private elementary school in the Hazleton Area. With the help of two teachers — her sister, Kristin Beurmann and Casey Herseim, who, Dessoye said, understood scope and sequence of curriculum and how to engage young learners — they instituted the Kindergarten Readiness Program (KRP), which turned a profit its first year.

“Our multi-sensory, center-based curriculum engages young learners and invites them to participate in an environment that is uniquely tailored to both nurture and challenge each individual student. BBELA is founded on the belief that educators must nourish the development of the whole child,” she explained.

At Misericordia, Dessoye teaches fulltime — courses like occupations, pediatric intervention and management — to sophomores through graduate level college students. She is also a mentor for the OT doctorate program. She works with current graduate students on her research passions for preschool and elementary school children.

She has also developed and implemented a health sciences camp for middle school students in the summer to expose them to the more than 300 careers available in health science.

Dessoye was diagnosed with dyslexia in elementary school and overcame many teacher’s desires to “write her off.” With her parents’ encouragement, she persevered and soared. After being accepted into the OT program at Misericordia University, she received her master’s degree and later her doctorate as she worked and raised two children.

Her mentors are her father, a successful businessman; her mother, who provided understanding of relationships as a strong, successful woman; and her aunt Susan, a strong leader in nursing. She values her colleagues at Misericordia for their wisdom, thoughtful reflection and insight.

Her husband, Dr. Bill Dessoye, a physical therapist, has been a great supporter and shows great pride in her accomplishments and loves her unconditionally. Her daughters, Brianna, 10, and Julia, 8, inspire her daily. “I love that I get to teach them about being a strong, educated, driven, and compassionate woman. They are what drive me,” she said.