After the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, on Dec. 14, much has been reported in the media about all of the heroes who sacrificed themselves for the sake of their students. What these staff members did deserves to be commended. We all hope that none of us ever are put into such a situation, but there is no doubt in my mind that all school staff members - both professional and support employees - would do anything, even the ultimate sacrifice, for the students in our schools.
We shouldn't have to wait for a horrific event such as the one last Friday for the public (ourselves included) to recognize and realize that school staff members are, and always have been, heroes. Just today I was talking with a fellow (non-SLP) district employee. She had commented that often she isn't sure if she's really helping anyone. Let me let you in on a secret - many of our students (and parents of our students) recognize that we are heroes just by doing our jobs every day. We are helping them. We are needed. Never doubt that.
School-based SLPs - what is the best way to acknowledge what happened yet move forward? Here's what I think - Just keep doing what you're doing. Keep being a hero to your students each and every day. How are we heroes every day? Think about the kids on your caseload now. Think about the students you've worked with in the past. How have you been a hero to them? Have you ever felt like a hero at work? In reflecting on my nearly 13 years I can say "yes." Think about these "heroic" situations that occur at school on a regular basis. I'm sure you've been in many of these situations:
- Helping the student with multiple articulation errors be understood by others
- Helping the student who stutters become more open to talk about stuttering and increase positive feelings (and speech fluency along the way)
- Helping the child who gets overwhelmed and confused in academic subjects due to the vocabulary demands
- Helping the non-verbal child find his/her voice through AAC
- Helping the student with pragmatic language difficulties learn perspective-taking skills
- Helping the child who is embarrassed by his/her speech-language feel more confident about his/her skills
- Caring about each and every one of our students' communication skills and helping them achieve their highest potential
School-based SLPs, keep up the great work. You are all heroes each and every day. Thank you for all you do for our students!