A naturalistic early communication intervention

KidTalk intervention procedures are based on more than 50 research studies demonstrating that naturalistic, conversation-based language teaching implemented by parents and teachers is effective for teaching young children functional communication skills.

Children taught using KidTalk procedures typically learn new vocabulary, talk in longer sentences, and develop strong, positive relationships with their parents, teachers and peers.

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Our Team

KidTalk has a staff of about 30 people. About one-third of these are masters or doctoral students, and most of the rest are full-time staff. KidTalk also regularly employs a handful of undergraduate students part-time.

Ann Kaiser

Ann Kaiser, Ph.D. – Director, KidTalk Projects

Ann is the Director of KidTalk and the Susan W. Gray Professor of Education and Human Development at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. She serves as the principal investigator for the research and demonstration grants at KidTalk.  She has published more than 100 articles and chapters on early language interventions for children with language delays and developmental disabilities, and for children at risk due to poverty. She has received numerous awards for her research and mentoring including the Harvey Branscomb Distinguished Professorship at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Kaiser received her PhD in Developmental and Child Psychology from the University of Kansas. 

Jennifer Nietfeld, M.A. – Project Director, JEEP

Jen obtained an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and a Masters in Developmental and Child Psychology, Behavior Analysis, both at University of Kansas. She worked with Dr. Kaiser as a parent trainer for four years, which moved her to become the director and founder of SAIL Inc, an early intervention group providing ABA to children with autism. In addition to her work with SAIL, she is the Project Director for the JEEP project, a three-site grant funded by Autism Speaks.

Megan Roberts

Megan Roberts, Ph.D., CCC-SLP – Project Director, WORLD

Megan Roberts is a licensed speech-language pathologist who completed her doctorate in Early Childhood Special Education at Vanderbilt University. She currently works as the project director of the Working on Rapid Language Development project (WORLD), investigating the effects of a parent-implemented language intervention on the language development of toddlers with language delays. Before moving to Tennessee Megan worked at an inclusive preschool in upstate New York and as an Early Intervention provider. Megan's research interests include parent-implemented language interventions for young children with language delays and observational language assessments to index language growth over time.

Our Team

Laura McCorkle

Kimberly McCulla, B.S. – WORLD –

Kim works as the data manager for ACE (Adaptive Interventions for Mininally Verbal Children with Autism) and KTTP (KidTalk Tactics Program). She graduated in 2008 from Lipscomb University, where she studied psychology and english. She became acquainted with the Kennedy Center during her senior practicum, where she assisted at the Kennedy Center and TRIAD, and worked on projects dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder detection and intervention. Kim has worked with children in various corporate and private settings for the last five years, and plans on continuing her education at the graduate level in developmental psychology.

Kalynn Kennon

Stephanie Jordan, B.A., SLPA – WORLD, JEEP –

Stephanie Jordan received her bachelor's degree in communicative disorders from the University Of California Northridge. Prior to moving to Tennessee, she worked as a Speech Language Pathology Assistant in an early intervention program in California. She is currently working on her master's degree in communicative disorders. Stephanie was recently hired by Vanderbilt University as a parent trainer and interventionist on the WORLD (Working on Rapid Language Development) project and JEEP (Joint Attention Enhanced Milieu Teaching and Expanding Play) project. Stephanie enjoys working with children and their families to help support and mentor strong relationships and development.

Kalynn Kennon

Kalynn Kennon, B.S. – WORLD –

Kalynn Kennon currently works as a data manager for the Working on Rapid Language Development project (WORLD), investigating the effects of a parent-implemented language intervention on the language development of toddlers with language delays. Kalynn coordinates recruitment, data collection and scheduling for the WORLD team. Before working in the Special Education department Kalynn worked in Vanderbilt's Epidemiology Center for a breast cancer research study.

Laura McCorkle

Lauren Lackey, B.A. – WORLD –

Lauren works as a research analyst for the Working on Rapid Language Development (WORLD) project. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the University of Kentucky, where she was a research assistant in the psychoneuroimmunology lab, studying the interaction of stress and health. Lauren also has experience working with children through the YMCA and Girls, Inc., in which she served as a program facilitator for underserved populations.

Laura McCorkle

Morgan Lueck, M.Ed. – All Projects–

Morgan is the Project Coordinator for all of the KidTalk programs and performs various duties across all projects. She received her Master's degree from Vanderbilt's Special Education program, specializing in high-incidence disabilities. Morgan taught middle school children for four years in the public school setting before joining the KidTalk team.

Suzanne Thrower

Suzanne Thrower, M.A. – WORLD –

Suzanne Thrower is an Educational Consultant for KidTalk and works on the WORLD (Working on Rapid Language Development) project. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Communication Disorders and her Master's Degree in Special Education . Before working for KidTalk, Suzanne worked on both the Preschool Language and Autism Team at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center. She  also has experience working in the classroom as a special educator in an elementary setting. She began work here in October 2009 and enjoys both the teaching strategies and effective parent training that this intervention offers for promoting language development.

Kelly Windsor

Kelly Windsor, B.A. – KTTP –

Kelly Windsor is a doctoral student in early childhood special education, and is currently completing follow-up assessment visits for children and parents in the KidTalk Tactics Project. Prior to beginning the doctoral program, Kelly worked on the KidTalk team administering assessments, coaching parents in using EMT strategies, and working with children using EMT.

Courtney Wright

Courtney Wright, M.A. – KTTP, JEEP –

Courtney is a doctoral student in early childhood special education and a certifed speech language pathologist. She works on the KidTalk Tactics and JEEP projects.