Sunday, May 8, 2016

My New SLP Life

I don't know why, but it's taken me a long time to blog about this.
I'm not sure if it's because I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this major change in my life, 
or if it's because it makes me emotional. 

If you happen to follow me on my personal Facebook page, you may have seen the announcement I made this past November...

It was with a full heart I accepted a new position as Coordinator of Speech, Language, Hearing Services and Deaf Education in my school district. I would be moving out of my teeny weeny, tomb-like therapy room and into my district's special education department building. 

I even got to help interview applicants for my school SLP position.  That was a huge deal to me because leaving my students and co-workers was super important to me--and gave me but time anxiety- even though I was so excited to have been chosen for this new job.

I'm happy to report I found a wonderful SLP to take my place, and I'm doing her CF year! Going back to observe her (with my students) is like going home every time, and I am so relieved my kids are in capable and caring hands. 
Thanks, Maddie! 

Every time I told a parent or student I was leaving, it stung. Not just figuratively- it physically hurt.  Maybe that's why I couldn't write about it until now.  Too fresh. 

I'd been at my school a loooooooooong time - so long that I had students whose parents were students of mine! That makes me feel really old but really grateful, too.

The good-byes were hard, but I'm not far away; I know the friends I made there are for life.  
We are still swapping stories at our afternoon faculty meetings 
(aka happy hour).

Allison and I became friends co-teaching in her third grade inclusion class. If you're a school SLP hesitant to try inclusion/push-in, I can tell you some of my most cherished friendships grew from sharing a classroom: 

So bittersweet to be moving on, but I had prayed long and hard about this.  
On a lighter note...
I can't even EXPLAIN how overwhelming packing up 20 years of things I'd accumulated was!! Since my own children are all grown up, I had dragged oodles of their books, toys, vehicles, stuffed animals and other random stuff to my therapy room- not to mention all the irresistible kiddie stuff I buy.  Even after many many trips in my husbands truck, I still left the new therapist with more materials and supplies than she'll ever be able to use.  (I had miniature room but a huge storage closet, y'all!) 

I couldn't leave it all because, thankfully, I'm still doing therapy!  Now my precious speech supplies take up a couple of closets in my home, and THIS is my new therapy table... 
(ummm it's just my kitchen table doing double duty) 

Yes, Lola and Juni are my therapy assistants.  My clients love that they hang out with us while we work. My little clients come to me or I go to their homes;  I'm excited to be picking up more for the summer! Since my new job comes with NO caseload (but still lots of work), I have to keep my therapy chops sharp!  I never ever want to stop doing therapy.  Also, since one my the district's SLPs is on maternity leave, I'm helping with her workload. 

Of course, I'm still making products for my clients, too!  For everyone who asked...OF COURSE I'll still be blogging and creating activities for my TpT store :) I'm so glad you want me to! 

After Christmas, I moved into my new office on the third floor of a very old, historical building and y'all... I HAVE WINDOWS!!! 

FOUR BIG ONES!!  92 inches tall (I measured!) 
AND A VIEW!!! I'd only had 1 window (for 2 measly years) over the past 20 years!! 
I can see sky!!  I can see what the weather is like!!  It's crazy good! 
LOOK!! There's sunlight!!
[Only my fellow closet SLPs can understand the significance of this!]

Of course, my personal crew of guys helped lug my things up to the third floor...

My mom, my best friend from Texas and my long-time, much loved inclusion co-teacher came to clean and organize, too!  How blessed am I !? 

The support was overwhelming!! {in a very good way}
I wish I had a picture of my friend, Noelle. She's the friend who throws all the crap away that you don't need but feel attached to. She gave away - and hauled away- many, many garbage bags. After a while she wouldn't let me watch.  I managed to save a few of the "vintage" hardback speech therapy books circa 1970s.  She doesn't know.  Shhhhhhh

She and our school librarian (a beloved co-worker) sent me these gorgeous flowers on my first day at the new job.  Again, blessed beyond measure. 

Sooooo many things in that office hadn't been touched or moved in decades. In fact, when we attempted to move a 7 foot tall wooden bookcase, it fell to pieces. 

Hence the rocking new bookcase from World Market- just one find from the "operation office" shopping trip. 

It's starting to feel like "me." It was scary and awkward at first, but I believe that God puts us where we belong.  I'm starting to understand my purpose here.  
I'm incredibly thankful for where God has plopped me. 

Overseeing 41 SLPs (and another one about to be hired), 3 deaf education teachers, transliterators and working with our district audiologist is a bigger job than I anticipated, but I love it
It feels fulfilling to be advocating for and supporting the SLPs that were my cohorts for a very long time.  I feel privileged to be able to spend my days working for them.  I know how hard the job of a school SLP is, and I vow to never forget what it's like to be in the trenches day in and day out.  I've given instructions to several therapists to hold a serious intervention if I ever start to behave like I've forgotten. 

Ok, now let's focus on how cute this old office has become even though so far I'm not here too much- I'm mostly out visiting schools.   Our suburban/rural district has 27 schools, and {only} the SLPs also serve 6 private schools and dozens of area day cares. That's a lot of ground to cover! 
I probably spend more time in my little VW beetle bug.  

Still, you know I love things to be cute and organized! 

I brought all my favorite people with me...

Oh my gosh- these walls- I want to paint them this summer.  

It's all work in progress (as am I) but I'm trying to get everything in place.
I'm obsessed with these wall mounted paper trays from Ikea. 

I tend to stay late; there's so much I want to do in my new role!!
When I'm the last car in the parking lot, sometimes my director comes to my office and gently commands me to go home.  Once I didn't comply and set off the alarm as I left for the evening,
UGH let's not talk about that.
Let's just say everyone enjoyed the video footage.

Now I'm not just worrying about my evals and re-evals getting completed,  I'm worrying about every single one in the whole district!  I admit it freaks me out sometimes.  
Still, I'm putting on my big girl panties.  I got this.  Pretty, labeled binders help. 
I laugh in the face of a challenge! Muahahahaha (That's not really true but it makes me sound tough.) 

^^^ these are from the See Jane Work Collection @ Office Depot. ^^^

Wanna come sit and talk speech with me? I'll make ya some coffee like any good southern friend would.  My sweet husband bought be this Keurig to match everything else in my office.  
 Oh, and he gave me the quirky cup, too. It's from my favorite store :)

I'm trying. 

I may have overdone it with the turquoise.
But it calms me :) 

My better half can do extraordinary things with a can of turquoise spray paint. 

I love that lots of SLPs come by to vent, chat, ask questions, get advice - and that others leave notes when I'm not around.  All the while, it's me learning from them- learning what they need from me, learning what things I need to focus on improving, learning that some are more dedicated and passionate than I ever knew.  I don't think they know {yet} that they're inspiring me.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen that my husband and I were redoing an old mid-century tanker desk that I scored off of Craigslist. My determination to get this sucker home caused my body to magically gain super human strength. No kidding, I lugged this monster down a flight of concrete apartment stairs to get it in a friend's truck. This baby been restored to her former glory and sits proudly in my new office :) 

It's that spray paint again, y'all. 

This beautiful prayer by Mother Teresa is right next to my desk. 
My daily reminder. 

Being a word girl, I like to keep my mottos in close view :)

It's starting to feel like home, and I've made so many lovely friends here.

I confess, though, I really miss my students.
 I miss squeaky giggles and little hands and hugs.
Two of the best parts of my new job are transitioning preschoolers into the school system and observing the "tough" kids that the SLPs ask my input about.
I'm the worst observer ever.  I have to get a piece of the action. 

Ohhhh and here's my favorite part of my new space...

My sons and husband ordered these amazing watercolor prints for me from Etsy. 
Best.    Christmas.   Gift.    Ever. 
I mean, COME ON!! 
That's cool!! 

I cried.  

It's just such a thoughtful gift. 

Can you name all three? 

Know what else I miss? Sharing my daily therapy with you on IG
I hope you'll stick with me on my new SLP adventure! 

 Any advice for me?  
What do you wish for in a leader? 
I really want to know! 


  1. I LOVE your new space. Turquoise is soothing to me as well. The only scary part was your binders marked 'affidavits.' �� One reason I would pbly not jump at an admin position. And missing the daily interaction with my building peeps. But the windows....sigh. I've not had one yet, and this is year 17. Loved your Etsy art. I still know the names. Whew. Glad you finally posted about this. Seeing snippets on IG was fun but I knew there was more to the story. Huge life change. Bittersweet. But you will make a huge difference in this setting. And are still seeing kids. And who knows? You can always change your mind down the road. That's the blessing of our profession. As for what I want in a leader-regular meetings (we rarely see each other otherwise), pertinent inservice, advocacy on caseload/workload size, CEU budget if possible, ENCOURAGEMENT, open door/listening ear, support when things get crazy. All of which I'm sure you will do. ��

  2. Mia, you have the right stuff! You are ready for this by virtue of your years of experience in the "trenches." My advice? Don't ever forget your roots. In terms of leadership, I always respect administrators who are accountable and act with integrity. If that's missing, all bets are off! I suspect you are a woman of integrity!! :)

  3. Congratulations! What an exciting opportunity (and a cute office, bonus)! It's one of the things I love about our field, the constant opportunities to change and grow. Good luck on your adventure!

  4. Yay! I love your room; it is incredible! I admire you for taking this step. Best of luck and skill in all you do! :)


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