Guest Author - Susan D. Bates
I interviewed Tiffany Rhodes to learn about her career as a speech language pathologist for the benefit of college students who may aspire to a similar career. Mrs. Rhodes works for Chesapeake Public Schools with children from preschool to 5th grade. Her credentials include a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), a teaching license, and a Virginia Department of Health license.
Below is information about Mrs. Rhodes’s current position, how she chose her career, and her educational background. This article is intended to provide students with a glimpse into the life of a school speech language pathologist and an an opportunity to learn about journey toward her current career.
Speech Language Pathologist Position
As a school speech language pathologist, Mrs. Rhodes evaluates children who are suspected of having a speech (articulation) or language disorder. In her current position, she provides speech therapy to children from preschool through 5th grade who have been diagnosed with a speech or language disorder.
When I asked Mrs. Rhodes what she liked best about the career, she said the opportunity to work with the kids. She explained that she gets excited when they master goals and no longer need services. She also said that she enjoys seeing children get excited about their accomplishments in therapy. She stated, “It is an amazing feeling when a child finally finds that correct tongue placement for a certain sound.”
I also asked Mrs. Rhodes what she least enjoys about her job. She stated that she dislikes the lack of communication with the parents. She explained that, with the exception of parents of preschool children who are not enrolled in the school, she usually she only has the opportunity to meet with the parents of her students one time throughout the school year. Typically, she meets with the families during the students’ annual Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. She explained that she recently implemented a homework folder so that parents can always see what she and the students are working on in speech therapy. She also sent her contact information to the parents so they would easily be able to contact her with any questions. It is her hope that these measures will improve her communication with parents and their involvement in their children’s progress.
Choice of Career
Mrs. Rhodes explained that she wanted a career working with children. Although she had received speech therapy as a child, it wasn’t until she was re-introduced to the field when her friend’s son needed speech therapy that she realized that she wanted to pursue a career as a speech language pathologist. After she decided on her career path, she began researching the career field.
Mrs. Rhodes completed her education at Old Dominion University. She received a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in early childhood education and a Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) in speech language pathology.
Students entering speech language pathology programs typically hold a bachelor’s degree with a major in a communications-disorders-related field (such as speech and hearing sciences or communication disorders). This coursework provides the required background for the master’s degree programs. Because her bachelor’s degree was not in a communication-disorders field, Mrs. Rhodes completed additional coursework to satisfy all of the prerequisites. This additional coursework added a year to her graduate program.
For students interested in a career in speech language pathology, Mrs. Rhodes advises them to research the field and to observe speech language pathologists in order to ensure they are pursuing a career that is a good fit. To learn more about the field, she encourages students in the United States to visit the American Speech-Language Hearing Association website (www.asha.org). Students outside of the United States can look for similar organizations within their own country.