​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Who We Are
The School-Based Therapy Services​ division of Harris County Department of Education (HCDE)​ in Houston, Texas is the organizational home of TxSpot. The division supports the educational needs of struggling learners in and around Houston, working in partnership with independent school districts and charter schools. In 2022, over 150 occupational therapy, physical therapy and music therapy practitioners served students throughout and around Harris County.
TxSpot content, including responses to inquiries submitted through Ask TxSpot, is developed by members of the leadership team of the School-Based Therapy Services Division, featured below.
Meet the TxSpot Staff
Carie Crabb, PT, MS
Senior Director
Carie is a physical therapist with over 34 years of experience in school-based practice and early intervention.  She currently holds the position of Senior Director over School-Based Therapy Services at Harris County Department of Education.  Prior to serving as the division’s director, she served as a School-Based Therapy Services manager for 12 years, managing occupational therapists, physical therapists and music therapists in suburban and rural school districts and an early childhood intervention program.  Carie's current responsibilities involve administration of the School-Based Therapy Services division, including contract management, division budget management, personnel management, and practice management. Carie currently serves on the Texas Occupational Therapy Association School Focus Advisory Board and on the Texas Education Agency Texas Continuing Improvement Steering Committee.

Leah Alba, PT, DPT


Leah received her B.S. in physical therapy in 1989 from Southwestern University, Cebu City, Philippines. She completed her transitional doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, in 2013. Leah has worked as a physical therapist in multiple practice settings, but has been part of Harris County Department of Education since 2000 where she initially worked in Early Childhood Intervention before moving to School-Based Therapy Services. She now serves as a Manager within School-Based Therapy Services, managing PTs, PTAs, OTs, OTAs, and music therapists in a local school district. Leah serves as the physical therapy Coordinator of Clinical Education, coordinating school-based field work experiences for physical therapy and physical therapist assistant students. She is a Texas Physical Therapy Association Tom Waugh Leadership Development Program Fellow and currently serves on the Texas Occupational Therapy Association School Focus Group Advisory Board .​

Thelma Banks (Tina), OTR, MOT
Tina began her 26-year career in the field of occupational therapy as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) and returned to school to earn a Master’s degree in occupational therapy. Tina is a veteran of the United States Air Force. She has worked in a variety of settings including Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), home health, acute rehabilitation hospital, sensory integration clinic, and schools. Tina has worked in the school setting for the past 7 years. During the past two years, Tina has supported the ABS West school by educating the staff and students on the use and impact of the sensory room. Tina is the newest member of the HCDE management team.   

​Amy Collins, OTR, MOT


Amy has over 25 years of experience as a school-based occupational therapist and manager. She has consulted with many school districts and educational service centers across the state of Texas to provide program evaluation and training. She has presented on a variety of topics related to school-based practice at local and national conferences. Amy has authored many articles, including one regarding research on weighted vests in which she was Principal Investigator.  She serves as an editor for the Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, has served on various AOTA work groups, and is a reviewer for AOTA conference proposals.

Traci Gault, OTR, MOT


Traci began her 20-year career in the field of occupational therapy as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA), eventually returning to school to earn her Master's degree in occupational therapy. Traci has worked in a variety of settings including rehabilitation centers, inpatient mental health, pain management clinic, home health, and schools. She has worked as a school-based therapist for the past 11 years. During her time working as a school-based therapist, Traci was a member of the assistive technology team and part of the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (now called Early Childhood Special Education) team.  While on the team, she participated in arena play-based assessments for children transitioning from Early Childhood Intervention (ECI). She has been part of the management team for School-Based Therapy Services at HCDE for the past two years.  Traci has an interest in mental health and leads the mental health leadership group at HCDE. 
Laura McFarland, OTR, MOT
Laura has 20 years of service delivery and leadership in the field, working in Early Childhood Intervention and in school-based practice at Harris County Department of Education.  Laura joined the HCDE School-Based Therapy Services management team seven years ago and supports both urban and rural school districts. Laura is the Occupational Therapy Student Coordinator for Doctoral Capstone and Master's level as well as occupational therapy assistant professional students for fieldwork placement and Capstone project mentoring. She is also the Professional Development Coordinator for the School-Based Therapy Services division and has worked to expand access to workshops to attendees across the state of Texas through livestreaming and On Demand viewing.
Melinda McGouldrick, OTR, MOT
Melinda completed her MOT degree in 1986, after first completing a BS in Child Development in order to focus on pediatrics. Initially working in neuro rehab with specific attention on supporting clients' transition back to school, back to work, and/or independent living, she then spent years as director of therapy services in Texas Medical Center acute care, outpatient, Long Term Acute Care (LTAC), and rehabilitation hospitals.  Career activities have included presenting at Texas Head Injury Association conferences, holding various positions on the Texas Occupational Therapy Association local and state boards as well as conference logistical management. Melinda joined the management team at HCDE in 2013, developing an appreciation for the role OT, PT, and MTs play on the collaborative team in order to optimize the participation of children in their daily occupation as students. 
Holly Shafer, OT, MOT
Holly has been an occupational therapist for 26 years, the last twelve of which have been in school-based practice at Harris County Department of Education (HCDE). She is currently a member of the management team for School-Based Therapy Services at HCDE. Holly’s previous experience includes acute care, neonatal ICU, home health, inpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing.  Holly embraces the holistic approach on which occupational therapy is founded and incorporates that perspective throughout all aspects of her professional and personal life. Her areas of interest include mental health, Universal Design for Learning, and mentoring OT students and new OT graduates. 
Pam Shaw, OTR
Pam has been an occupational therapist for 35​ years. She started her career working in a highly respected rehabilitation facility where she developed her knowledge in the area of seating/positioning and mobility. Pam took that knowledge and transitioned to medical equipment sales where she used her expertise in the provision of manual and power wheelchairs as well as custom designed seating systems to a variety of hospitals and seating clinics throughout the Houston Medical Center and greater Houston area. Pam has worked the last 14 years in school-based practice, serving as a manager during 10 of those 14 years.

Bernice Valenzuela, OTR
Bernice has more than 40 years of experience working as an occupational therapist in the role of clinician and manager. Her work experience includes inpatient mental health and school-based practice. She enjoys collaborating and partnering with the various school districts to meet the needs of their students.
Janine Calmes, PT, MS
TxSpot Administrator
Janine has over 40 years of experience as a physical therapist in multiple settings including acute care, rehabilitation, out-patient, home health, long-term acute care, skilled nursing, and now, school practice. In a past position in a gait and clinical motion analysis laboratory, she had the opportunity to participate in many research projects and to present at local and national conferences. She has co-authored research articles, abstracts, and posters. Currently, Janine works behind the scenes supporting TxSpot’s web design and content. Janine is a mentee of the Texas Physical Therapy Association Tom Waugh Leadership Development Program.