Meeting My Students for the First Time Presenting a poster at the 2017 ASHA Convention allows a telepractitioner to visit her students’ school. First Person/Last Page
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First Person/Last Page  |   March 01, 2018
Meeting My Students for the First Time
Author Notes
  • Ashley Lemaster, MA, CCC-SLP, has been a speech-language pathologist for almost 17 years. In addition to telepractice, she has experience working with children and adults in health care, and with toddlers in school and home health settings. ashleylemasterslp@gmail.com
    Ashley Lemaster, MA, CCC-SLP, has been a speech-language pathologist for almost 17 years. In addition to telepractice, she has experience working with children and adults in health care, and with toddlers in school and home health settings. ashleylemasterslp@gmail.com×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / ASHA News & Member Stories / First Person/Last Page
First Person/Last Page   |   March 01, 2018
Meeting My Students for the First Time
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.23032018.72
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.23032018.72
In my almost 17 years working as a speech-language pathologist, several moments stand out. One of them is somewhat recent: the day I actually got to meet my students.
Yes, you read that right. For the past two years, I have been living in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and providing telepractice speech-language services to students at Stockdale High School in Bakersfield, California. Students on my caseload have a variety of needs—many have language-based academic difficulties. About a dozen have autism spectrum disorder. I have a great relationship with the students there, but I hadn’t actually met them in person before. In November, that all changed.
To start my story, I will back up to July 2017. When I found out that my poster session on “Teletherapy and Teens” was accepted at the ASHA Convention, I booked a ticket to Los Angeles with a plan: to meet my students while in California. The Stockdale staff was just as excited as I was, and convinced me to keep my plans a secret from the students. That was not easy!
Setting foot on campus at Stockdale High School that day was incredible. I physically walked into the rooms where my students were in class. As can be expected with teens, their reactions were across the board, from rushing over to hug me, to glancing over and not bothering to remove their earbuds.
What was the biggest surprise? Their different heights. When they are logged in to speech-language sessions, they are all sitting and facing me, so it was a surprise to see how very tall—or short!—some of them are. Also, in sessions they look at the camera when we work together, but in person, some had amazing eye contact and others didn’t look at me at all!
Another thing that just struck me as hilarious was the teacher who recognized me and said, “You look exactly like you do on the screen! This is amazing!” I almost felt like I had celebrity status.
I am fortunate to be a part of a school that realizes the importance of speech-language treatment and how it can benefit its students, from enhancing their grasp of language-based curricular material to learning and using facts about social behaviors that will enhance their communication for a lifetime.
Working in their brick-and-mortar school building for a couple of days helped me relate to my students even more effectively. I talked with them about their goals and taught a social skills class that many are in. As a result, I think that the students see me more as a real person who advocates for them. I felt a closer bond with the teachers as well, as we were able to talk in person about our students and connect in a more personal way.
Other than the time going by way too fast, it was just an amazing experience. After arriving home after a wonderful week in California, I logged in and my students asked me when I would be coming back. I hope I can visit them again sometime soon.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
March 2018
Volume 23, Issue 3