Staff Bio’s

Rhyno Coetsee, CEO   Lead Physical Therapist

Rhyno Coetsee, CEO
Lead Physical Therapist

Rhyno (Ray) is the founder of Sprout Pediatrics and Chief Executive officer as well as our lead Physical Therapist.  Rhyno attended the College of Charleston and later transferred to the Medial University of South Carolina and graduated with his BSPT degree in 1996.  Most recently, Rhyno completed an aquatics therapy course and an adaptive equipment review with Rifton Equipment Company. He enjoys growing professionally as a part of a PT/OT think tank that discusses current topics in therapy on a monthly basis and collaborating with other clinicians on difficult cases.

Rhyno has vast experience in the home setting for many populations. In recent years has worked on developing aquatic systems for the early intervention population and creating adaptive wellness programs for children through our Sproutfit awareness campaign. Though a working relationship with the YMCA he was named 2013 Volunteer of the year and is currently initiating transition and inclusion  programs for children with special needs into their youth team sports and lesson programs. This program continues to be in a pilot phase as we start support groups, club meetings, adaptive wellness opportunities and respite services for families of children with special needs in a cost neutral way.

Rhyno shares, “I love seeing children and their parents take joy in small successes as they work towards functions that typically developing children achieve automatically. I enjoy the challenges and uniqueness of each family and home environment allowing me to be creative with their environment and using the resources in their community to make therapy natural. Kids make me feel like a hero with their excitement as they greet me at the door.”

“As the founder of Sprout Pediatrics I have always shrived to lead our organization to help each child and family experience the hope of a full life. During the early stages of this quest we developed a culture of innovation among our employees through technology and equipment and generated new opportunities for wellness and aquatics to become a diverse and impactful organization.”

Rhyno is married to his beautiful wife Melanie for 15 years. She is Sprout Pediatrics lead Speech Language Pathologist.  They have 3 boys ages 4, 8 and 10.  Rhyno enjoy sports, reading and spending quality time with his family.

Melanie Coetsee, SLP-CCC Lead Speech Language Pathologist

Melanie Coetsee, CCC-SLP
Lead Speech-Language Pathologist

Melanie graduated from Erskine College with a BS in Biology in 1997 and received her Master of Speech Pathology from the University of South Carolina in 1999.  As our lead SLP Melanie has extensive experience in feeding therapy and has completed numerous oral motor and feeding conferences and is known in our area for her skills as a feeding specialist.  She is trained in The Beckman Oral Motor Assessment & Intervention, Talktools Sensory Motor Approach to Feeding, as well as the Talktools Oral Placement Therapy for Speech Clarity and Feeding.  Additionally, Melanie is gifted in working with clients with Down Syndrome, Childhood Apraxia of Speech and early language development.  She is also trained in Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets (PROMPT) as well as the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol for children with Apraxia of speech.

Melanie served as a school based Speech Language Pathologist prior to joining her husband in the pediatric home based setting five years ago.  While working for ten years at C.C. Pinckney Elementary on the Fort Jackson Army base, she was named Teacher of the year 2006-2007.  Melanie is passionate about learning and started the Midlands SLP Think Tank for Speech Language Professionals to have an ongoing avenue to share ideas and new approaches to providing therapy.

Melanie says, “I love being a part of “firsts” for so many children as they learn to speak and communicate.  Seeing a child say her first word after months of hard work, or accept food from a spoon after months of oral defensiveness, pre-chaining, and food play is so rewarding!”  She also shares that she truly enjoys the sense of community we have with our staff and the families we serve.  Every therapist on the Sprout Pediatrics team brings unique experiences and gifts to the table and desires to know more.  Sharing expertise and therapy strategies within our speech therapy team helps us positively impact more kids and families.

Melanie is married to Rhyno Coetsee.  They have been married for 15 years and have three boys, Noah (10), Landon (9) and Bennett (4).  She enjoys cycling, swimming, running and watching her boys play ball!

Kelli Anthony Physical Therapy Assistant

Kelli Anthony
Physical Therapy Assistant

Kelli is a Physical Therapy Assistant with Sprout Pediatrics.  She attended Midland’s Technical College and received her Associate’s degree in Sciences as well as her Physical Therapy Assistant Certificate in 1999.  Kelli has worked in the outpatient and pediatric clinic setting for several years including at the Moore clinic. She most recently attended a Rifton equipment and product review course.  This course was beneficial as Kelli learned about the Rifton products which are useful for pediatric clients as they transition forward in the their Physical development.

After having children Kelli wanted a more flexible schedule that would allow her to be home with them after school while still investing in others during their school day.  While with Progressive Physical Services, Kelli was awarded the “Most Productive Employee” award.  She shares, “I absolutely love children! I enjoy seeing the accomplishments of the kids I work with and having fun to reach goals.”

Kelli is invigorated by the fact that the ownership of Sprout Pediatrics as well as the other employees really care about the staff, clients, families and the community!  “We are encouraged to help families in so many ways…ways that aren’t expected or that others may not see or know about.  Quality care is important, and Sprout encourages me to deliver quality care and helps me be a better therapist.”

Kelli is married to Mark and they have three children: EJ (6), Isabel (4) and Gage (3).  She enjoys spending time at the beach, reading and spending time with her friends and family.

Leila Nadel Bressler Speech Language Pathologist, CCC-SLP

Leila Nadel Bressler, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Leila is a Speech Language Pathologist with Sprout Pediatrics.  She attended the University of Georgia and received a BS Ed. in Communications Disorders in 1999 after which she received her Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology from Georgia State University in 2002.  Leila specializes in oral-motor and feeding therapy and absolutely loves the challenge of helping children learn to eat and tolerate various foods. She is known for incorporating lots of sensory therapeutic play into her feeding therapy as well as really involving the whole family in the feeding process.  Leila also enjoyed doing Hippa therapy (the use of horseback riding for a child with Autism and other  children with special needs) when she lived in Georgia  and hopes to resume this sometime in the future.  Most recently Leila has taken the Importance of Play for Young Children and Sensory Issues in Young Children course.

Leila has worked in many settings over the past 12 years including public schools, clinics, and with the Birth- To-Three population in both Georgia and South Carolina.  She has co-written an article entitled “Play-Based, Family-Involved Therapy” that was published in a Speech Language Journal.  Leila shares, “I feel that I learn more from the children than they ever will from me.  It has been so wonderful to be able to change the life of a child and their family! What an honor!”  Leila also feels working with the Sprout Pediatrics team is where she belongs.  She loves that the team is full of quality people who go beyond normal expectations to help patients and families.  She says, “The cohesiveness of the group and all the ‘extra’s’ we are seeking to accomplish are what she loves.”

Leila and Jay have been married for nine years and have a 4 year old daughter, Sandy, and she is the light of their lives!  They are expecting another baby girl soon! Leila adores her two four-legged children, Bojangles and Happy, and she loves going on long walks around the lake in her neighborhood with her family. Leila also loves to play tennis, do anything at the beach, and spend time with her family.

DeShea Gornowicz  Speech-Language Pathologist, CCC

DeShea Gornowicz, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

DeShea graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Master of Sciences in Speech-Language Pathology.  Prior to obtaining her Master’s degree, she attended the University of South Alabama where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in English Literature.  DeShea began her career working in early intervention.  She also has experience in adult acute, post-acute and clinical settings. DeShea’s areas of  interest include early language therapy, feeding/dysphasia therapy and motor speech disorders.  DeShea is a Hanen Certified Speech Therapist.  DeShea has also acquired training in Food Chaining,  Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets (PROMPT) as well as the Beckmann Oral Motor Assessment and Intervention Program.

DeShea is grateful for the privilege to work with children with special needs and their families.  She adds: “One of the greatest joys of my profession is the ability to empower parents and to watch them begin implementing therapy strategies on their own.” She believes that the parent or caregiver is the child’s best and most effective teacher.  She loves working alongside parents and watching as their children achieve their goals.  DeShea also says that Sprout Pediatrics provides the perfect format to do what she loves! “I love working with children in their natural environment and empowering parents to facilitate the best outcome for the child.”

DeShea and her husband Jeff, relocated to the Columbia area in Spring of 2014 where Jeff serves in the Armed Forces .   They have been married for 14 years and have two sons, ages 10 and 2.  They enjoy traveling and exploring new places as much as they can.

Tonya Hayes, SLP-A Education & Marketing Liaison

Tonya is a Speech Language Therapy Assistant and the Educational and Marketing Liaison at Sprout Pediatrics. She graduated from Columbia College with a Speech Therapy degree in 1990 and later received a Master’s of Education, with an emphasis in Preschool Education, from the University of South Carolina in 1992.  Tonya worked as a Speech Therapist in the School Districts of Kershaw County and Fairfield County.  She has worked as a Parent Trainer for the SC School for the Deaf and Blind and was the Director of  Parent Education and Family Literacy in the School District of Fairfield County.  Tonya has also worked for Lexington-Richland 5 School District as a Speech Therapist in the Elementary Autism program.  Recently Tonya has completed the Beckmann Oral Motor Assessment & Intervention Conference and two classes offered by Talk Tools on Oral Placement Therapy for Speech Clarity and Feeding Skills & Feeding Therapy: A Sensory-Motor Approach.  She also actively participates in a local SLP Think Tank.

Tonya’s passion for education has always been present as she served as a state ECD trainer in the First Steps program as well as a faculty member in the Early Childhood Education at Midlands Technical College.  Tonya has written numerous parenting articles for ParentLife, 30 Second Mom, and was a guest on the Wee Hands Blog Talk Radio cast. While each of these opportunities have developed her professional knowledge, it was her experiences with preschoolers and children with sensory processing disorder and Autism that most impacted her desire to work in the pediatric arena.  As a Pediatric therapist and parent educator, she feels she gets to help parents learn to replicate therapy strategies in an organic setting that creates solid learning for a bright future.  Tonya says, “As parents are empowered to help their children, progress is exponential!” She shares she is “genuinely in awe of her clients and how hard they work each week and is blessed to get to not only change their world, but their family’s as they accomplish and grow and develop necessary skills for a future full of hope.”

Tonya is happily married to Jay for over 22 years and they have two sons, Bryson, who is a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of South Carolina and Garrett, who is finishing High School at Dutch Fork High.  They are active members of Riverland Hills Baptist Church and enjoy leading a couples Bible Study on marriage and family.  She enjoys family time, traveling and scrap booking!

Ashley Hipp Speech Language Patholgist CCC

Ashley Hipp, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Patholgist

After completing an Early Childhood Education degree at Clemson University in 2010 Ashley received a Master of Speech Pathology from the University of South Carolina in 2012 and joined Sprout Pediatrics in 2014.  Ashley enjoys working in a pediatric setting and experience seeing clients with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Apraxia, Articulation/Phonological disorders and feeding difficulties.  She has most recently done further study in the area the Kaufman Approach to treating Childhood Apraxia of Speech as well as a class of Oral Motor Feeding Therapy.

Ashley enjoys working with the birth to three population because of the degree of impact that occurs at a young age.  She adds, “I love to help children and their families reach the highest potential possible and have fun while doing it!”  Ashley feels that Sprout Pediatrics is an amazing company filled with therapists who truly make their work all about helping children and their families.  Each member of the Sprout team loves what they do, is open to answering questions and goes above and beyond to help in any way possible.  “I haven’t seen many companies that have a team with such a great attitude and commitment to quality therapy and care.”

Ashley and her husband Derek have been married for 2 years and have a dog named Tucker! She enjoys walking and Clemson football!

Jennifer Tardy Administrative Assistant

Jennifer Tardy
Administrative Assistant

Jennifer joined our administrative team in the fall of 2014.  Among her many roles, she enjoys taking referrals, gathering information, and finding the right therapist for each referral we receive.

Although, her passion is in the field of nutrition where she is attending school at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  Upon completion, she will be a Certified Health Coach.  Jennifer plans to use her certification as a Health Coach to help families with an emphasis on the role of ‘nutrition’ and special needs children.  She plans to teach families the important role of nutrition and its impact on early childhood development.  Jennifer has an extensive work experience as an office manager for an occupational therapy private practice; and has studied occupational therapy coursework in college. She recently added a business administration major with a concentration in billing and coding to her studies to compliment her administrative role at Sprout Pediatrics.

Jennifer has extensive experience as an Autism Information Specialist for The Maine and North Carolina Autism Societies as well as ‘hands-on’ experience as a mom of a son with autism and daughter with ADHD.  Jennifer uses her experience to help families cope with a newly diagnosed child as well as offer insight to many programs available and offers families an array of community resources available to help ‘bridge the gap’ from early intervention to pre-K status.

She also shares, “Sprout Pediatrics has given me the great opportunity to challenge myself professionally as well as personally!  I feel that I can ‘grow with Sprout’ with plenty of opportunity for advancement throughout all the various levels of competence in my career as well as use my skills, knowledge and expertise to help families understand the impact of proper nutrition with special needs children, an area that is underserviced.”

Jennifer and Paul have been married for 7 wonderful years and have three children: Brady, Riley, and Halley.  They enjoy biking, hiking, working out, boating, traveling, sight-seeing and attending their local church.

Paul Tardy, OTR Dir. of Development & Lead  OT

Paul Tardy, OTR
Dir. of Development & Lead OT

Paul is our Director of Development and Lead Occupational Therapist.  After high school, he enlisted in the US Army. Following basic training at Ft. Dix, he was stationed at Ft. Eustis, Virginia where he became a Chinook Helicopter Mechanic.  After graduation, he hoped to be transferred to an Army post in Hawaii, but instead was sent north to Alaska! While serving in below freezing temperatures, Paul was asked to go on a ‘special duty’ assignment! He was intrigued and was told to report to the gym on post to learn how to be a lifeguard -in Alaska! He pursued on further to obtain his WSI (water safety instructor) license and taught kids how to swim as a part time job while still working on helicopters as his main duty. Paul swam daily and enjoyed working with the kids! After serving a four-year tour with the military and being honorably discharged, he was encouraged to become an occupational therapist by his brother who was studying to be a physical therapist.  After transferring his college credits from the University of Alaska, Paul earned his degree as an occupational therapist and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of New England in 1995.

As related to Pediatrics, Paul has extensive clinical expertise in Sensory Processing Disorder, sensory assessments and treatment applications to also include: therapeutic feeding; splinting; wheelchair assessments; NDT (Neuro-developmental Treatment); PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation); Rood Technique; manual therapies; ‘Wilbarger Protocol’, Brain Gym®, assistive technologies and general occupational performance applications.

Paul is a teacher/encourager at his core and is using his education as well as his passion in the development of the staff here at Sprout Pediatrics.  Paul also is our new hire contact and is responsible for interviewing and mentoring all of our new staff.  Paul believes the employees at Sprout Pediatrics are a dynamically growing, innovative team of highly skilled and caring therapists seeking to obtain the highest potential as clinicians as well as for service delivery for the families they reach.

Paul shares,   “For the first time in my career as an occupational therapist, I feel at home at Sprout Pediatrics as I am challenged to better myself as a professional and as a person on a daily basis with the potential to grow within this company! Sprout employs a group of like-minded therapists who enjoy sharing ideas ranging from the newly graduated therapists to the most seasoned therapists. This unique ‘team’ culture encourages me to become part of a ‘bigger picture’ and empowers me to perform at my best as a pediatric early intervention OT.  Not only do I get to ‘play’ all day, I have the great opportunity to become a part of many families lives while helping children with various needs maximize their potential for function and independence. I believe the greatest reward for helping children achieve their greatest potential helps me to achieve my greatest accomplishment in life!”

Paul and his wife, Jennifer, have been married for 7 years.  He says, “It seems like just yesterday we were sitting on the dock at camp when I asked Jennifer to marry me!”   Paul brings a unique understanding and knowledge to each family that he sees as he also has two kids with special needs.  Brady is getting ready for college next year studying to be a nurse practitioner; Riley, who has Autism, just entered into the ninth grade special education program.  He thoroughly loves animals and plans to work at the zoo after high school graduation. Halley, who has ADHD, is in the fourth grade and loves gymnastics and walking the dogs in the neighborhood.  They all enjoy trips to Maine, hiking, biking, cruises, living in South Carolina and going to their local church. They have two pets: Toby the black cat and Molly the orange dog.

Phyllis Smith, Chief Financial Officer

Phyllis Smith, Chief Financial Officer

Phyllis is the Chief Financial Officer at Sprout Pediatrics.  She has a long career in office and information management for a highly successful real estate broker prior to joining Sprout Pediatrics.  Phyllis thrives in an environment where she can create systems and processes for efficient work flow. Phyllis oversees all administrative tasks from intake to payroll including other administrative personnel. She also is directly responsible for reviewing paperwork and direct the flow of medical records to Pediatricians, families and Early Interventionist’s with whom we collaborate on a regular basis.

When Phyllis decided to make a career change, she felt God would use her in a new way…to impact lives more meaningfully.  She shared that she loves the fact that everyone has such a BIG heart to help all of the children become all they have the potential to be. “Everyone I work with loves what they do. I love being a part of our team by facilitate our success on the administrative side.”

Phyllis has been married to Scott for 33 years. They have two children ages 32 and 29, both are married. They have 6 grandchildren ranging from 8 years to 4 months old.  She enjoys spending time with the family, running, riding bikes, horseback riding and sewing. She also enjoys hanging out with her Bible Study girls every week!

Jessica Snipes, Physical Therapy Assistant

Jessica Snipes, Physical Therapy Assistant

Jessica is a Physical Therapy Assistant with Sprout Pediatrics.  Jessica graduated from Lander University in 2006 with a degree in Exercise Science & a Minor in Biology.  She then received her Physical Therapy Assistant degree from Midlands Technical College in 2008.  She most recently attended a Pediatrics course for Physical Therapy Assistants and the Adaptive Equipment review with Rifton.

Jessica shares that she “loves working with children and helping them achieve milestones and goals. They really make you stop and think about the important things in life!” Jessica also enjoys taking on unique cases and researches and reads a great deal to incorporate our style of play therapy into sessions that will aid in continual progress for each of her patients.

Working with Sprout Pediatrics offers a great working environment.  Jessica enjoys the camaraderie amongst the staff as she looks for advice and ideas.   Co-Treating with other staff members proves to be fun and always insightful as we seek to help each client develop to their fullest ability.

Jessica and her husband Tim, have been married less than an year! She has 2 step-daughters who are 9 and 10.  Jessica enjoys spending time with her family, the beach and riding 4 wheelers!

Dr. Leigh Ann Spell Speech Language Pathologist, CCC

Dr. Leigh Ann Spell, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Leigh Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Bowling Green State University 1986.  She then attended the University of South Carolina and received her Master’s of Speech Language Pathology and doctoral work from the University of South Carolina in Communication Sciences and Disorders soon after.  Leigh Ann previously worked as a professor and the Program Director of the Speech Language Department at Columbia College.  Leigh Ann enjoys a varied practice as she specializes in child and adult language disorders, accent modification, articulation disorders, cognitive disorders, fluency disorders, voice disorders and higher education.  Recently, she has attended classes on Food Chaining (working with picky eaters), Autism Spectrum disorders and early intervention.  She also is learning to work with clients via telepractice.  Leigh Ann is currently also an adjunct faculty member with the University of South Carolina Department of Speech Language Pathology department.

Leigh Ann is a noted profession in the field and has written professional articles and received numerous awards listed below:

  • 2011 – SC Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award
  • 2008-2009 – President of the SC Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • Spell, L. (2013). Accent connections helps individuals find their professional voice. MidlandsBiz.
  • Bowers, R. & Spell, L. (Fall, 2011). Parents, teachers and the speech-language pathologist: Language facilitation strategies for the preschool English Language Learner (ELL). Divergent Learning Journal.
  • Ray, J. & Spell, L. (2007-2008). How autism is changing the landscape of speech-language services provided in the South Carolina public schools. Teacher Education Journal of South Carolina, 13-18.

Leigh Ann contributes, “I enjoy working with young children as they discover the power of communication. They are so open to new experiences and helping families learn how to maximum their communication skills is a great feeling for me.” She also adds, “The therapists and staff at Sprout Pediatrics are all caring professionals who want to make sure that their clients come first. They have excellent skills and knowledge in their disciplines and are constantly striving to learn and do more for the children they serve.”

Leigh Ann has been married to Jamie for 25 years.  They have a daughter Hannah, who is 16 and a son, Kyler, who is 13.  Both of her children are active on travel soccer teams and this keeps them busy but they also love to travel!

Amanda Sundberg Speech Language Pathologist, CFY

Amanda Sundberg, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

After graduating from the University of South Carolina in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, Amanda taught 4th grade for two years at Carolina Springs Elementary in the Lexington School District One.  She then returned to USC and received her Master’s in Speech Pathology in 2013.  She is currently employed full-time as a Speech Language Pathologist with Lexington One and sees clients for Sprout Pediatrics after school.

She recently attended the Charleston Pediatric ENT Update at MUSC.  This course explored craniofacial and VPI related speech disorders as well as oral feeding techniques used in feeding children with laryngomalacia, cleft palate and aspiration.  She enjoys working with all clients but particularly enjoys swallowing disorders, pediatric articulation, phonology and language disorders.

Amanda shares she enjoys working with the pediatric population because research shows that the early years of a child’s life are crucial in the development process and directly linked to benefits with academic achievement and life skills.  She particularly enjoys that Sprout Pediatrics encourages her to come alongside families in a natural setting to provide unique strategies for each individual client.

Amanda is an avid Gamecock fan and enjoys attending sporting events, hiking, biking and canoeing.  An active lifestyle coupled with concerts, traveling and singing are what keeps her busy while she is away from work.  She also just completed her 2nd mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Serving others is a high value to Amanda.

Rachael Whitaker, CCC-SLP Speech-Language Pathologist

Rachael Whitaker, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Rachael graduated from Furman University with a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science in 2006. She later attended the University of South Carolina and received a Master of Science degree in Motor Control and Rehabilitation in 2009, as well as a Master’s of Speech Pathology in 2013. Rachael is highly qualified, as she has most recently attended continuing education classes on Dysphagia Diagnosis and Treatment in Medically Complex Patients: NICU-Teens; The Charleston Pediatric ENT Update; Application of the Passy-Muir Swallowing and Speaking Valves; Pediatric Trauma & The Road to Recovery: Infancy Through Adolescence.

Rachael comes to Sprout Pediatrics from the Children’s Hospital of Palmetto Richland. There she saw a variety complex cases stemming from multiple etiologies. She enjoyed her work there, but looks forward to being involved in her clients treatment and seeing them progress and master goals. Rachael says, ” I love kids! I love that I can teach their families about speech and language through play. I am also humbled to have the chance to give each child the tools they need for effective and safe eating, or helping them to reduce aversions and take the stress out of mealtime for the whole family.” She shares that Sprout’s mission to consider the long term application of therapy and quality of life for each child and their family is a high value for her as well. Rachael points out, “It is so important to have goals beyond just speech, language and eating and to really focus on what those skills look like once therapy is over.”

Rachael is married to Matt (2010) and has a son named Grafton who is 17 months old. They have two
dogs, Missy and Dublin. They enjoy cooking together and playing outside. She loves to read and drink

Tricia Westbury Administrative Assistant

Tricia Westbury
Administrative Assistant

Tricia enjoys helping others and does she ever help us! Tricia is such as asset to our team as she keeps our billing and plan of care documentation in compliance.  She shares, “I love working for Sprout Pediatrics because of the gift of hope they give to families.  The positive morale and encouragement is a great atmosphere to work in and she feels inspired each day as she knows she is making a difference in someone’s life!”

Tricia and her husband  James, have been married for 31 years.  They have two children, a son and daughter with  2 grandchildren and another one on the way! Tricia cherishes time with her family, enjoys working in the yard and going to the beach.

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