The Power of Passionate Mentoring: An SLP Reaches Out to Mentors, Gives Back to Students Looking back over my 26 years of working as a school-based speech-language pathologist and as a speech-language supervisor, I recognize many who were influential in my career, but two people played key roles in my career development. They were friends—who can be the best mentors! I highly encourage anyone starting ... Features
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Features  |   September 01, 2006
The Power of Passionate Mentoring: An SLP Reaches Out to Mentors, Gives Back to Students
Author Notes
  • Barbara Conrad, is the regional speech-language consultant/supervisor at the Northern Ohio SERRC. She worked as a school-based SLP and in private practice for 10 years before working for the SERRC. Contact her at conrad@esclc.org.
    Barbara Conrad, is the regional speech-language consultant/supervisor at the Northern Ohio SERRC. She worked as a school-based SLP and in private practice for 10 years before working for the SERRC. Contact her at conrad@esclc.org.×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / Features
Features   |   September 01, 2006
The Power of Passionate Mentoring: An SLP Reaches Out to Mentors, Gives Back to Students
The ASHA Leader, September 2006, Vol. 11, 57-58. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR7.11132006.57
The ASHA Leader, September 2006, Vol. 11, 57-58. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR7.11132006.57
Looking back over my 26 years of working as a school-based speech-language pathologist and as a speech-language supervisor, I recognize many who were influential in my career, but two people played key roles in my career development. They were friends—who can be the best mentors! I highly encourage anyone starting out, changing jobs, or feeling in a “slump” to phone a friend. While I was in graduate school, one classmate turned out to be a lifelong friend.
Cathy Bauer, now associate director of the North Central Ohio Special Education Regional Resource Center (SERRC), and I followed each other’s career paths—first sharing struggles and triumphs in graduate school, and then consulting on each other’s first caseloads. We developed treatment strategies and materials. We supported each other as we made job changes and advances. When we both moved to administrative roles as consultants or supervisors, we mentored one another along the way. We provided each other a different perspective on the new job or new direction. Even now, on good days or bad, we can make a phone call or send an e-mail, knowing we will receive a supportive, yet honest reply. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing someone who understands the profession, the setting, and the players involved—and who can provide the perspective or boost you need.
Another mentor appeared early on in my role as a school-based SLP, when I involved myself in assisting the local county office. There were only a few SLPs per district, but gathering together a few times a year enabled us to share ideas, connect, and benefit from planned professional development activities. That’s when I met Cecil Hembree. Cecil was the secondary language arts consultant for the Medina County (Ohio) Board of Education and was assigned the task of organizing quarterly meetings of SLPs in the county. I contacted him frequently—or possibly even nagged him—to make suggestions for the agenda and make sure the SLP meetings were on the calendar. He in turn recognized my need and desire to work as a consultant or supervisor. He mentored me for several years and encouraged me to apply for my current position in a neighboring region. I was hired 17 years ago as the regional speech-language supervisor/consultant for the Northern Ohio SERRC, where I love working for 120 SLPs in 40 school districts. Without Cecil’s encouragement I may never have made this significant career move.
In my role as a supervisor, I have encouraged SLPs in my region to promote our professions to their local high school students through “Don’t Miss the Bus,” a project of OMNIE (Ohio Master’s Network Initiatives in Education-Speech Language Pathology). We currently have 25 students from our region who are enrolled in Ohio’s universities and are being mentored by their hometown SLPs. This spring I contacted the students and sent each one a “College Care Kit” containing a letter of encouragement, a water bottle, a clipboard, school reference materials, and, of course, microwave popcorn and M&Ms. Students responded, and it was clear they were thrilled to know someone cares, is interested, can allay their fears, and will welcome them into the fold after graduation. It is important to give back, encourage, and make plans to step aside for the next generation of hope for families of children with communication needs.
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September 2006
Volume 11, Issue 13