How I Found Renewed Passion for my Profession

Finding a renewed passion for your profession can feel like opening up a whole new world again. After many years doing a job she loved, Melony found herself wondering why she was an SLP and why she was putting up with all of the obstacles. Then, she found a renewed passion for being an SLP. Read her story in this post.

I’d like to introduce you to Melony – a fabulous reader who is going to share her perspective on how she renewed her love for her job as an SLP! I LOVE reading blog posts from other SLPs, especially those with as much experience as she has!

My name in Melony O’Flaherty.  I started on my speech and language journey approximately 17 years ago when I was a senior in high school in the rural and geographically isolated location of Ely, Nevada.  Our school had a career fair and our local speech and language specialist was providing information on her career and I thought, “Hmm, that sounds interesting.  My little sister was in speech when she was young.”

Fast forward to my second year in college when I found myself dying a slow educational death in my secondary education classes and I thought, “I can’t do this major another second.”  I took one of those career placement exams and low and behold over all jobs the report indicated that I should be a speech and language pathologist.  So, I took the road less traveled and received my Master’s of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology in six academically challenging and fulfilling years.  I spent my CFY in Reno, Nevada (where I had gotten my college education) as an SLP for two low-income, EL schools with a caseload of 55.  Then returned home to place I love (Ely, NV).

This place, this district, this school allows me to have a diverse caseload with many service delivery options.  And…I feel I was meant to do this profession as my career.  I am speechy!  I love what I do and when I start talking about it I feel an exuberance that starts in the place where my heart resides and radiates through my whole being.

Until about two years ago… when I started questioning why I was even there trying to fight so hard for something no one else saw as relevant.

       As one of three SLPs in our district, I have always had to fight.  Fight to be included in trainings, fight to be seen as necessary, fight to provide inclusive therapy services, fight to be included in staff events, fight to build meaningful relationships with other staff members and even fight to secure the same resources they give freely to general education teachers.  Two years ago we had a huge turn over in special education staff and I was one of two special education staff members that wasn’t sick and had an actual degree in some type of special education field.  It was a disaster!  That with the added bonus of large cuts to budgets, few available local resources, and an increase in students with more severe speech and language disabilities had me on the proverbial ledge.  I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.  I took the leap and began my journey into furthering my education (in other areas) because this whole school thing may not pan out.  I started taking business classes!

Well…I enjoyed the classes but it wasn’t the same passion I felt when a student said their /r/ correctly for the first time or when I saw the light bulb go on for one of my students that is deaf or the joy of sharing that language moment in the classroom with a teacher colleague or when my students tell me they love me.  So what now?  I am still not really okay with the vilification of the educational system as a whole or with the “do more with less” mentally of funding.  So where do I go from here…..?

In January of 2016, I was asked by one of my very esteemed colleague to join the literacy team for our district.  In the state of Nevada, they are instituting a read by 3 law in which all children will read by 3rd grade or can be retained.  She told me that I would be the expert on the team in regards to early childhood, language, and effective communication.  All of a sudden, a path was illuminated!  What? Me? I know that I am too eager to offer information and a little bit of a logophile.  I often feel pushy with my speech and language ideals and services, but someone finally saw the value of my fight.  It wasn’t all in naught!  Since that fateful day, I have provided three trainings to staff members on speech and language development, the five areas of language, and evidenced-based practices.  I have had more teachers ask me questions, present ideas on how to improve classroom based instruction, had administrators ask questions and complement the presentation, and even had one teacher take the EBP model and use it as a foundation of practice in her classroom.

This is what I do!  I am a speech and language pathologist.  I help create the desire for others to know about language (young and old).  I DO have something to give back.  I DON’T always have to fight.  I also taught three weeks of summer school in which I provided language instruction through use of book companions and interactive writing.  We had increases in skills and reading levels in all students.  This is it!  This is why speech and language matters!  It is our students’ foundation for all other learning.

Now as I look back on that year and a half journey of exploration, I realize how important it was for me to persist in the career I love so much.  If I would have given up the fight, I would have never experienced the joys.  Orison Marden beautifully stated, “A constant struggle and an endless battle; this is a price of all success.”  On the days you feel you just can’t go on kick up your heels, have a drink and remember why you do what you do.  Please, persevere through battle so you may feel the accomplishment it brings.

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3 Comment

  1. Reply
    August 31, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    Thanks for the inspiration! This came on a week where I had to fight to get a wastepaper basket, an adult chair and a table for my kids. I asked the media specialist for a projector and board to view and was told NO. So, I purchased them with my own money. (never mind that there were 10 projectors in her office just sitting on a shelf, but hey, I’m just the SLP. NOT a teacher) Came back to media and said, ok, I have the projector and board….may I have a cart to sit them on? Yep, you guessed it….nope. Really??? Never mind that I service four ID classrooms and those kids bring in thousands of dollars for that school. I am beyond frustrated.

    1. Reply
      August 31, 2016 at 11:03 AM

      You’re welcome! I think we all totally get those frustrations at times. Glad the post helped!

  2. Reply
    September 5, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    Yep, sometimes just some verbal praise and a little bit of recognition can re-kindle that fire! 🙂

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