Karla Hartlep’s time with the Heartspring team spans decades. She brings enthusiasm and experience to the school. Her passion and creativity even added a new method of therapy for Heartspring students.
She joined Heartspring in 1989, when it was still known as Logopedics, as a switchboard operator. She knew she wanted more of a challenge, so she moved to the psychology office in the early 90’s as a psychology services assistant, getting closer to her goal of working with the students and spending more time with them. From there, she worked on her education and became a behavior specialist. She also began working in animal assisted therapy at the school in 1994.
One of Karla’s main roles at Heartspring is working in animal assisted therapy with her therapy dog, Josie. She was the first person to bring AAT here, giving Heartspring another way to serve our students. The job combines two of her favorite things, helping people and animals. She says animal therapy can be effective if the patient likes pets and that a well-trained animal can be used as a tool to help students meet their goals--the student is more likely to work harder and less likely to have problematic behaviors.
Her expertise in animal therapy has been acknowledged in the Wichita community and beyond. She served as a therapy dog evaluator for Therapy Dogs Incorporated and as an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator.
In June 2003, she took her love of animals to the Kansas Humane Society for 12 years when she served as the Chief Operations Officer and Interim President/CEO. She was able to learn leadership skills in her position there. However, she returned back to Heartspring, what she calls her “home,” bringing back all that she learned.
Karla’s quest to better her education is not over yet. She is working on her master’s so, her free time is limited, but when she does have a few minutes, she enjoys spending it with her family and dogs and reading.