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Inside the Life of a School Speech Pathologist: Bailee Lawrence's Impactful Work

The Hornet Hive Podcast

Release Date: 04/18/2024

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In the fruitful fields of education, there exists a group of steadfast professionals who tirelessly work behind the scenes to nurture the communication skills of our children. Among them is Bailee Lawrence, a dedicated speech pathologist working in Discovery Elementary within the Williamston School District. Her journey from an outpatient facility to the vibrant environment of a school district amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the transformative impact of speech pathology within the education system. In this blog post, we delve deeper into the experiences and expertise of Bailee Lawrence, gaining insight into the critical role she plays and the ways in which her work enriches the lives of young students.
 
Unveiling the Role of a Speech Pathologist
The world of speech pathology is multifaceted, entailing the art of aiding children in their journey to express themselves effectively. Bailee Lawrence's role involves working with children as young as 3 years old up to 2nd grade, addressing a broad spectrum of speech and language needs. These may range from assisting non-verbal students in finding alternative methods of communication, such as AAC devices or picture cards, to honing the articulation skills of children with specific speech deficits. By allowing youngsters to amplify their voices and communicate with clarity, Bailee's work serves as a fundamental cornerstone in the educational development of these students.
 
Navigating Challenges Amidst COVID-19
The pandemic presented a unique set of challenges for educators and support staff across the globe. Bailee Lawrence's introduction to the Williamston School District occurred during this turbulent time, as schools had transitioned to a virtual platform. Despite these hurdles, her unwavering dedication and the warm embrace of the school community enabled a seamless integration into her new role. The resilience shown by both educators and students in adapting to virtual learning speaks volumes about the collective spirit and determination within the Williamston School District.
 
Impactful Support System at Williamston
Within the nurturing embrace of the Williamston School District, Bailee found herself surrounded by an extraordinary support system. The collaborative spirit among teachers, administrators, parents, and, most importantly, the students, has cultivated an environment where every member is empowered to thrive. The unwavering support and accommodation of her schedule by teachers exemplify the collective commitment toward the holistic development of each student. The shared determination to create an inclusive space for all students, regardless of their unique needs, underscores the ethos of the Williamston School District.
 
The Ripple of Rewards
Every impactful journey is adorned with stories that resonate deeply, and Bailee Lawrence's experiences are no exception. She shares a heartwarming anecdote of a young student who, under her guidance, embarked on a transformative journey from silence to speech. The heartfelt gratitude expressed by the student's grandmother serves as a poignant reminder of the profound impact Bailee has had on the lives of those she touches. Such stories are the embers that fuel the passionate flames that illuminate the path she treads.
 
Nurturing Connections for Brighter Futures
For parents seeking assistance for their children's speech and language needs, the road to support begins with a pivotal connection – the teacher. Bailee highlights the vital role teachers play as bridges between parents and speech pathologists. Their collaborative efforts set the stage for an inclusive approach, ensuring every child's unique needs are addressed effectively. This collaborative model fosters a sense of unity and shared responsibility in nurturing the communication skills of the students.
 
Conclusion
In the tapestry of a school district, the work of vital professionals like Bailee Lawrence weaves threads of empathy, dedication, and transformation. Her journey reflects not only the challenges but also the triumphs and the rewards that come with nurturing the communication skills of young learners. It is through her steadfast commitment and the collective support system within the Williamston School District that the seeds of growth and empowerment are sown in the hearts and minds of the students she serves. Bailee Lawrence stands as a beacon of inspiration, embodying the unwavering spirit that propels the educational experiences of every child she touches.
 
TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:19]:
Welcome back to the Hornet Hive. I'm your host, doctor Christopher Lewis, one of the members of the Williamston Community Schools Board of Education. Really excited to have you back again this week. Every week, I love being able to sit down and talk to you about the amazing things that are happening here in our school district. And there are many amazing things that are happening that are engaging our students in so many different ways that are helping our students To find success and preparing them wealth to move them forward through their education. And it is my goal To make sure that you are up to speed, that you know what's going on, that you feel connected with our schools whether you have kids in the district or not. And we do that through this podcast in many different ways to be able to share some of the great things that are happening, but also introducing you To staff members that are working with our kids on a daily basis and allowing for you to be able to hear from them and learn from them and learn more about them because They are working with our kids in so many different ways. And whether you have kids or not, you may interact with these staff members, and you might never Interact with the staff members depending on your kids' needs.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:31]:
So it's important to be able to have you understand that and Also, have you be able to meet these people because they are doing amazing things. Today, we've got another great guest. Bailee Lawrence is with us, and she is a speech pathologist working in Discovery Elementary with our young fives as well as our kindergarten through 2nd grade Kids, but she's also working with early on 3 year olds within our community as well. So I'm really excited to have her here And to introduce her to you, Bailee, thanks so much for being here today.

Bailee Lawrence [00:02:03]:
Hi, Chris. Thanks so much for having me.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:02:05]:
It is my pleasure having you here today. And 1st and foremost, one of the things that I love to do as we start these conversations is really turn the clock back in time. You've been with the district now for a little bit, And talk to me about what initially brought you to Williamson.

Bailee Lawrence [00:02:20]:
Oh, man. So I actually got hired, during COVID. So it was right at the end of the school year of 2020. So you guys actually, the schools had already shut down. And I was in an outpatient facility in Howell And that time really opened my eyes, and I decided that I really wanted to try the schools. I really, you know, wanted out of the outpatient world. I really wanted to be part of a community school and work with teachers and work with different staff members. So luckily for me, I this job came available, and I applied and very luckily got it.

Bailee Lawrence [00:02:57]:
And I have been so happy here since. I'm so happy I made the change. I love being in the school system, and Williamston School System specifically is it's been amazing.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:03:07]:
So you made the switch from working in outpatient to working inside of a school, Very different type of environments. Been here now through COVID, and you are back in school working with kids as well as Kids in the community, talk to me about your experiences and what it's been like to transition to the schools. Was it what you expected Or was it not? And what what have you learned along the way?

Bailee Lawrence [00:03:35]:
Honestly, I think it's better than I expected. You know, I like I said, I for 1, the school schedule Can't beat it, right? But also just the working so closely with the teachers and the other staff members. We have a really great, just, Community here in Williamston, I've always felt so welcome. And it was really hard coming in during COVID because my 1st year, we were virtual. So a lot of the times we would come in and I would have to close my door and really not get to know anyone, so it was really hard, but since then, everyone is just So welcoming and so awesome, and the students here and the parents, I mean, everything has been honestly better than I could have imagined. I'm lucky to to be a part of this district. I've never been in another school, so I can't really compare it, but it's amazing. And I I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:04:23]:
Now not everybody knows what a speech pathologist does. So tell me about the role that you play in working with kids and families And, to allow for people to better understand what a speech pathologist does within school.

Bailee Lawrence [00:04:38]:
As you mentioned, I work with really young ones. I start with I have some 3 year olds and then I go all the way up to 2nd grade. And there's really it's a pretty big spectrum, right? With the 3 year olds, some of them are not really talking yet, so I'm helping them, you know, find some words and get their and being able to express themselves. A lot of kids just have some articulation, Deficits, so specific sounds that we're working on targeting. Can we have trouble with their l sound or their s sound? So I'm helping them produce that. Some kiddos are not talking, so we have a couple, you know, non verbal kiddos, so we're trying to find other ways to help them communicate to express themselves. So we have AAC devices that we work with. We have picture cards and things like that.

Bailee Lawrence [00:05:17]:
So really, you know, what I'm doing is helping a kid learn to express themselves However they can. However the best method for them is whether it's verbally, whether it's with a device, and then some of those kids who are able to express themselves work on some of those sounds, making sure they're able to produce those correctly.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:05:35]:
I appreciate you sharing that because, like I said, not everybody completely knows what sometimes, specific niche level staff do. Now you've been here now a few years. You made it through COVID And all of the challenges that that brought to our school district. So as you look back at your time and you look at the work that you do on a daily basis, What sustains you in the work that you do within our district, and what makes Williamston a great place to work?

Bailee Lawrence [00:06:02]:
Oh, I've mentioned this before. The staff here is amazing. I have the best Staff at discovery, I know a lot of times, speech therapists don't have that luxury in the school system. It's hard To work with teachers, and I have never had an issue with teachers. They're so accommodating to my schedule and they just want the best for their students and that has been Huge for me in the school system, just getting that support. Our administrators, amazing. Cassie Fander, so great. You know, she's helped The school be what it is.

Bailee Lawrence [00:06:32]:
She's amazing. And then I think the parents and the kids. The kids are amazing. I mean, this week is obviously before Christmas break and things are a little bit crazy, but they're all just so excited and they're so excited to be at school, and that Makes my job so much easier. I'm not having to fight any of them. They're also so excited to be in speech, you know, they love when I come and get them. The parents are super supportive. Wonderful parents that are involved and engaged and want what's best for their kids too.

Bailee Lawrence [00:06:59]:
So I think it goes all the way At the top, you know, administrative people all the way down to the kids is just as wonderful and that's what makes my job so rewarding and That's why I love it.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:07:12]:
Now every teacher that I talk to are definitely storytellers. They have many stories that sustains them as we just talked about, but also that They hold dear to themselves in regards to really positive things. They get hurt at times by the stories that do impact them in so many different ways. For you, as you think back to your experiences here within Williamston, can you share a story that for you really epitomizes The experience that you've had as a Williamston staff member?

Bailee Lawrence [00:07:42]:
1, I think, that sticks with me is I had a little one come in, And he wasn't really talking at all, and by Christmas time he had started to say some words, and his grandma, of all people, like wrote me a letter, And it was like, you know, you are an answer to my prayers. And I that has really stuck with me because it really that's why I do this, To help other people, and that's why I'm here. And I know I'm making a difference and it's great work, but hearing that from someone like a grandma, that was just super rewarding me, and it it's something that I think about all the time.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:08:18]:
Now talk to me about for parents that are listening to this that Have a child that they think may need some services, that may need to get some help with their speech. How do parents get connected? What's the best way for them to start that process?

Bailee Lawrence [00:08:33]:
So the best way would be to reach out to teacher. Their teacher is typically a bridge between me and the parent. They are more than welcome to reach out to me directly as well, but most of the time what happens is they reach out to the teacher, and then the teacher will reach out to me, and then we do a Screen first, just kind of see where they're at, and then there are a couple different roads we can take if we decide that they might benefit from speech. Oftentimes Parents, they might not even be aware, so the teacher will bring it up to me and then the teacher brings it up to the parents as well. So it can go really it all kind of starts with the teacher though. That's typically the best communication point to start with, and then the teacher typically reaches out to me.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:09:10]:
Well, Bailee, I just wanna say thank you. Thank you for all the work that you do to help our kids To be able to make those strides, that movement forward that helps them to be able to better integrate in with education, within their classrooms, within their homes because the work that you're doing is so important and helps so many of our kids that really need it. And I just wanna say thank you, And I wish you all the best.

Bailee Lawrence [00:09:34]:
Thank you so much, Chris. Thanks for having me today.