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  • By Joanne Summer, MA, CCC-SLP

Inspiring the Next Generation


When my daughter, a school counselor at the Pine Grove Manor Elementary School in Franklin Township, NJ, asked me to present about a career in the field of Speech-Language Pathology at the Career Day she was organizing, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, what’s a mother for? I knew I had to help my daughter; I was also excited about the opportunity to inspire the next generation of possible Speech Therapists. However, I had no idea how much fun speaking to the four classes of fourth graders would be!

I was worried I would have difficulty presenting for a full half hour and so I brought along speech/language games to play. Surprisingly, we never got to them! By the time I discussed the difference between speech and language, briefly touched upon the various speech and language disorders diagnosed and treated by Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs), as well as the steps one has to take to become a SLP, I was almost out of time. To the delight of the students, I passed around my mouth puppet, mirror and toy telephone listening devices, and then it was time for the children to go to their next presentation.

The next day, my daughter brought over a stack of thank you notes written by the students. I will cherish them all, but especially the two that read as follows:

"Thank you for coming Ms. Summer and teaching us all about Speech. Maybe one day I might be a Speech teacher."

"Thank you, Mrs. Summer, for teaching us about Speech Therapy. I find it very important and interesting. Maybe I’ll do Speech Therapy when I’m older. Thanks for inspiring me!"

Thank you, students at PGM Elementary School! Can’t wait to come back to present next year.

Joanne Summer, MA, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist based in Morristown, NJ, has helped hundreds of children improve their speech sound production and language skills. She founded Well Spoken Speech Therapy, LLC, in 2014 after spending 12 years providing therapy to children (K-5) in the New Jersey public school system. In private practice, her clients also include younger children and adolescents. In addition, she treats people of all ages who stutter or otherwise find it difficult to speak fluently—an area in which she has received extensive specialized training.

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