I found my way to the school setting as a speech language pathologist. After losing many patients in acute and long term care facilities, I decided that I needed more reward in my profession. I thank Judy Saylor for my first opportunity as a speech pathologist for Madison Champaign ESC.
I entered my new position in August of 2001 and found out quickly that both districts were desperately seeking programs that provided structure and support for services rather than isolated treatment for struggling students. I was one therapist in 2 districts with 80+ students on caseload. I had no professional peers to plan with during the day. No experience writing Individualized IEPs in such a large volume. With few resources and no school experience, I should have failed. But as you know, I obviously didn't cave under the pressure. But why? I can reflect back now and pinpoint a few things:
- Listening - I listened to every teacher, administrator, and parent who had concerns or needs that my program could address.
- Perspective - rather than looking at each classroom individually, I stepped back and looked at the overall system. How could I build a system of support that would benefit the whole rather than just a few grades.
- Collaboration - I worked with any educator that would take me, pushing into various classrooms to see how I could support classroom learning and generalize strategies to support students all day long.
- Questioning - I was not afraid to ask questions, seek clarification, call others, and ask for honest feedback. I did not pretend to know it all but I was committed to learning all I could to be a valuable resource for teachers, students, and families.