Breaking New Ground in Parochial School Program SLP Brings Public School, Private Practice Experience to New Position In the Limelight
In the Limelight  |   September 01, 2010
Breaking New Ground in Parochial School Program
Author Notes
  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   September 01, 2010
Breaking New Ground in Parochial School Program
The ASHA Leader, September 2010, Vol. 15, 22. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.15112010.22
The ASHA Leader, September 2010, Vol. 15, 22. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.15112010.22

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Name: Casey Oliver, MS, CCC-SLP
Title :Speech-Language Pathologist, St. Patrick SUCCEED Academy, Sacramento, Calif.
If you’ve ever been excited and scared at the same time, you understand what Casey Oliver is feeling right now.
On the one hand, she is excited—she is the first-ever speech-language pathologist at a newly opened urban Catholic academy in Sacramento, Calif. As such, she gets to choose and implement a service delivery model from the ground up and carve out her role in the academy’s community.
On the other hand, she is terrified for the all the same reasons. Although it isn’t unheard of to have an SLP on staff in a Catholic school, it is unusual, and Oliver knows she has the opportunity to break some real ground.
“The goal is to invigorate Catholic education,” Oliver said. “For kids who have significant academic or speech and language needs, it’s more practical for them to go to the public schools. But this academy is trying something new and innovative—they want to create a school where kids can get what they need without barriers, and where students who want a Catholic education can get one.”
Throwing herself at this ambitious new undertaking comes on the heels of a tough year. After spending several years at home with her children, Oliver spent the 2009–2010 school year working as an SLP in a school that served children from disadvantaged families. She had recently moved to California from Nevada where she had worked successfully as a school-based SLP, but this time it felt sadly different.
“It wasn’t the right place for me,” she said, “even though I got along well with the teachers and loved the students. But a part-time schedule with a full-time caseload was just too much for me and my family.”
At the same time, Oliver also had volunteered to start a speech and language screening program at her children’s Catholic school. The overwhelming response led her to create a private practice to help meet theneeds of students at local Catholic schools.
Still as she struggled through the year, she felt that something important was missing. She began looking for other options—did she want to become a teacher? As a former music director, did she want to go back into that field? By chance she saw a job posting at her children’s school for St. Patrick’s SUCCEED academy. The ad listed several openings, but it was the one at the bottom that caught her eye: “speech and language specialist.” Oliver couldn’t apply fast enough.
Within minutes of receiving Oliver’s résumé, the principal contacted her. The two met and had a “raw and authentic” conversation about what all students need for speech and language skills, and Oliver became the St. Patrick’s SUCCEED Academy’s first SLP.
Oliver has become part of a multi-disciplinary team creating a “Learning Center” that will serve as a resource center for students in special education and those who need more academic challenges. But most importantly, Oliver said, her role as an SLP will be integrated in the classroom goals from day one. “I will not be in a ‘speech closet,’” she declared. Although she doesn’t know what her caseload will look like, she’s confident that under the right model and with the right team, she will be able to help any student who needs her.
“I’m kind of terrified,” Oliver said. “But more than anything I’m thrilled and can’t wait, especially after going to ASHA’s Schools Conference and going to all the service delivery model workshops. It is so amazing to have created a framework for working at a Catholic school and then to get hired to be at this new academy—after working in the public schools, I realize the importance of collaboration.”
Contact Casey Oliver at
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September 2010
Volume 15, Issue 11