Speech Community Rallies Around a Sandy Hook SLP Connie L. Malgrande, one of two speech-language pathologists at Sandy Hook Elementary School, lost students and friends in the horrific shootings on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. An outpouring of support followed her original message to friends and colleagues on the SIG 16 online community. The Leader listened in. Overheard
Overheard  |   February 01, 2013
Speech Community Rallies Around a Sandy Hook SLP
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School-Based Settings / Overheard
Overheard   |   February 01, 2013
Speech Community Rallies Around a Sandy Hook SLP
The ASHA Leader, February 2013, Vol. 18, 18-19. doi:10.1044/leader.OV.18022013.18
The ASHA Leader, February 2013, Vol. 18, 18-19. doi:10.1044/leader.OV.18022013.18
December 17, 2012
To My Dear SLP “family,”
I work at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. I was spared the horror of the events on Friday as I was not in the building that day. However, I was glued to the TV looking for my friends and students as they fled the building. I lost two students and six adult friends. Many of you from around the country have written me e-mails of support and I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone. I read this blog every day and have never posted a message. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I learn so much from all of you and share it with my “speechies” in Newtown all the time.
Marian Rashap, San Diego: From all of us in Santee, Calif., who, sadly, experienced the same type of tragedy at Santana High School, our hearts go out to you and all of the families and staff.
Kellie Troop, Hamilton, Mont.: You and the people you have lost are in our thoughts and prayers here in Montana. We couldn’t be more heartbroken for the loss of so many innocent lives. Be strong.
Lucynda Olberding, Edmond, Okla.: St. Paul’s Cathedral (Episcopal) held a prayer service last night. We hope and pray that our prayers were felt in Newton.
Joann Decker, Winnetka Public Schools, Illinois: I am the SLP at Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, Ill. We are so mindful of the sorrow and loss for our colleagues at Sandy Hook School. My beautiful school was rocked in 1988 by the first shooting of this kind; how tragic to even write these words “first.” Your staff and families are in our prayers. Every day.
Susan K. Thompson, Chelmsford Public Schools, Chelmsford, Mass.: May peace surround you at this most painful time. Please know that thoughts and prayers are with you to carry you through this difficult time. Know that your SLP family is with you as you reunite with the children you serve and help them communicate whatever their needs are. Hold these young ones close …
Mary Henke, Hainesville, Ill.: During our District 60, Ill., speech-language department meeting yesterday, we held a moment of silence for Sandy Hook’s students, staff and families. We are keeping all of you and every one of your angles in our thoughts and prayers. God bless all of you in Newtown, Conn.
Lori Taniguchi, Tucson, Ariz.: A member of our Tucson Unified School District Exceptional Ed Department has a contact with the PTSO of the new school your children will be attending. For the past couple of days, the employees in Central Office have stopped by to create snowflakes for the new school. We will also send a “flurry” of positive energy, hope, and renewal as you all endure this difficult transition.
Kathleen Borkowski, Raleigh, N.C.: I am in an elementary school in Wake County, N.C. Most parents protected their kids from TV information. Teachers talked about the tragedy at appropriate levels for the age group. Our older kids wanted to do something so the students also made snowflakes to send to the students at Newtown. Staff was given the following: ACA Trauma Resources and ASCA School Crisis resources. I have only glanced through the information but, depending on the student (or parent), the information may help. The tragedy is so horrible people are going to need to talk about it for a long, long time. A lot like Columbine where my niece and nephew attended.
Janice Creamer, District Heights, Md.: Are you able to access the therapy materials that you had at Sandy Hook? Do you need new materials?
Connie: Right now I believe all of my things have been packed and moved to the new school. It’s just a matter of unpacking and organizing, which I am hoping to do next week. I have my iPad, so that is a good thing.
Louise Valente, Irvine, Calif.: I know that I will be praying for your strength as the SLP at that school in talking to your students over the next months and years. As SLPs, we find that our room is often where students feel safe in discussing their concerns. I would love to have this community help you generate suggestions for resources that might help you support your students, who will likely be going through the stages of grief for a long time.
Connie: Just last week I sat with my principal, Dawn Hochsprung, and expressed how I didn’t feel I was having an impact working with my students, and how ineffective I felt working with my most challenging students. Of course her first response was, “What do you need? What can I do to help you?” I didn’t have a response for her as I honestly didn’t have a good answer. She then proceeded to tell me how wonderful I was, and at the time I wasn’t feeling like I was too wonderful. That was the last conversation I had with her.
After all that has happened, and losing my dear coworkers and a couple of my students last week, I have realized that being an SLP is what I do and a big part of who I am. I am going back to our new Sandy Hook School and look forward to welcoming my kids in my new speech room with a big Dawn Hochsprung smile, and helping them the best way I can. I know Dawn will be right there with me whispering in my ear to give me strength and courage.
I know people out there are trying to do 26 acts of kindness, and I also know there are many districts in the country that have much less than we do in Newtown. Anything we can do to support each other would be a great tribute to the children and staff lost on that day.
I went to the new school yesterday and with help from my SLP BFFs set up my speech room. I now have a whole classroom for speech, not just a tiny office space. There is so much room! They even installed a smartboard. I have no idea how to use it, but I know the kids will love it once I figure it out. If anyone has any speech and language lessons for the smartboard, I would love for you to share them with everyone.
Paper snowflakes and artwork from around the world are slowly starting to fill the hallways and it is going to feel like a winter wonderland when we all return next week. There will be a lot of language therapy happening from the classrooms to the speech room as we talk about all the beautiful things around us.
Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for everyone’s support. SLPs are a special group of people and I am proud to be a member of our community.
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February 2013
Volume 18, Issue 2