Speech Language Pathologists

InspireNOLA SLPs work to help students succeed
Posted on 04/30/2021

InspireNOLA Charter Schools Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) work to ensure that all InspireNOLA scholars have an opportunity to develop the skills and tools necessary for communicating.

Their goal is to help improve how well a child is learning and performing in the classroom by focusing on a child’s ability to understand and use language.

“We work with the school administrators and staff to collaborate to help students holistically for academic success,” InspireNOLA’s SLP Coordinator, Monique Duncan said. “The most rewarding thing is seeing students reach their goals.”

Their job encompasses much more than just speech. They are trained to assist with several types of learning differences, including language disorders, dyslexia, nonverbal learning disorders, auditory processing difficulties, and social communication.

“Speech Pathology is very science based,” said Dwight D. Eisenhower SLP Alana Rose. “I have to have a good understanding of neurology, anatomy and physiology and linguistics to do my job effectively. I do more than just ‘teach kids how to talk.’ In addition to communication skills, we work on social skills, oral motor exercises, literacy, and life skills to name a few.” 

SLPs work with students one-on-one or in small groups to help them improve their language, speaking, listening and reading skills.

“We treat a variety of deficits: language, articulation, fluency, communication, voice disorders, feeding and swallowing. That’s just a simple list,” said Edna Karr SLP Michelle Dyer-Kashif. “We also serve as mentors, support, and advocates for students and parents.”

Eleanor McMain’s SLP Brandi Moore said their work is more than just helping students improve their grades.

“We support students in their academic endeavors, as well as help them communicate socially and improve their classroom comprehension,” she said.

Betsy Patrick, who serves Andrew Wilson Charter School, said she became a school SLP to be able to provide services to children who may not have access to speech pathology services in other situations.

“Being a school speech pathologist means you wear many different hats and need to be able to support kids however you are needed. My job varies from a speech pathologist to a teacher to a counselor,” Patrick said, adding, “I love being able to work with a variety of students and work closely with their teachers in order to best support them in their academic journey.”

No two days are the same for school SLPs. Alice Harte’s Keonndra Glover said her day starts by planning upcoming sessions with the students, which requires collaboration with other school personnel and a good bit of creativity.

“After the planning comes the fun part: implementation. Together we work on obtaining their communication goals written in their Individualized Education Plan. These goals include improving articulation skills, language development, cognition, use of AAC, stuttering, and/or pragmatics (social communication skills),” she said. “Each session is documented with measurable data. This data is used to track progress for each student. Along with seeing students, speech therapists are also responsible for screening students who may have communication deficits and conducting evaluations or re-evaluations.” 

Duncan said a misconception is that people assume their job is easy. 

“It may look like we are just playing, but we are always playing with purpose because children learn though play,” she said.

Glover agreed saying she loves being able to determine the delivery method for knowledge that works best for a student, be it a song, a worksheet, a game, toys, or anything that will help keep the students engaged and motivated.

“I love being able to be creative with students and help them become a better communicator at the same time. It’s like a sense of creative freedom,” she said. 

Patrick said she loves seeing students’ progress in their speech and language skills as well as "real-life skills," such as how to carry on a conversation, organization skills, giving positive feedback to others, and how to specifically ask for help from a teacher when you don't understand.

“A rewarding moment I had was when InspireNOLA helped me obtain an Augmentative Alternative Communication device for a limited verbal student with Autism,” Patrick said. “I loved hearing the student call her mother ‘Mom’ for the first time ever via her device.” 

Dedra Williams, the SLP for Pierre Capdau, said she values the feedback she gets from parents of the students she works with.

“It’s gratifying to hear how they can see the improvements their child has made across time,” she said. 

Duncan said she chose this field because wanted to make a difference in a child's daily needs.

“I wanted to help others communicate and advocate for their wants and needs,” she said. “I love seeing the progress that my students make on the goals and objectives I have set for them. I also love seeing them happy and engaged in the activities I have planned for the sessions.”

In the end, all the SLPs agree it comes down to making a positive difference in the lives of a child.

“There is never a dull moment working with children,” Rose said. “They challenge me to be creative and I love that. Helping the kids and watching them progress is so rewarding.”