TAKE 5 with EC | Lisa Clay, Speech/Language Pathologist
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Durham Public Schools is proud to launch Take 5 with EC. This series spotlights our Exceptional Children’s team. Each month, you’ll meet one of our outstanding practitioners and learn a little about their area of focus and how they are helping DPS special needs students excel and thrive.
This month, we are pleased to introduce Lisa Clay, a speech/language pathologist. Learn more about Lisa below.
Why did you choose a career in special education?
I became a Speech/Language Pathologist because I had a communication disorder that impacted the way I was able to interact with peers and teachers. In elementary school, I developed a stutter and I was very reluctant to talk to peers. I had speech therapy off and on while in middle school and into college at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. During my freshman year, I was trying to figure out what to major in by flipping through the course catalog and came across Speech/Language Pathology. I always enjoyed being with kids and I knew how therapy had given me tools to speak more fluently and confidently. I am glad that I wound up in Speech/Language Pathology!
Tell us about your daily work in assisting students with disabilities at your school or throughout the district.
My days are varied with many activities that I do to support the communication skills of students. I do speech/language therapy with a variety of students from age 3 up to 5th grade working on articulation, receptive/expressive language, social skills, and fluency. I also do hearing screenings for MTSS and the EC process. When a student is referred for an EC evaluation, I usually do a Speech/Language screener or a complete Speech/Language Evaluation.
What do you enjoy most about working with our students with disabilities?
Working with the students and families is a blast! I love just having conversations with kids. It is also great to see them start interacting verbally in the classrooms and sharing their ideas confidently!
When I work with students, my primary focus is helping them communicate with their friends and the adults in the building. From my own experience, not being able to communicate freely is very isolating. The interaction with others is key.
Describe your approach in meeting the needs of exceptional students.
I love working with all the staff. Teachers play such a big role in the language/communication development of their student, and it is not separate and apart from the academic curriculum. There is an entire ‘Speaking and Listening’ group of objectives that play such a vital role in becoming good readers, writers, and even mathematicians!
What is one thing you want the DPS community to know about your work and the students you serve?
All students have so much to share and say. It may take time to listen and give kids the space to know that their message is important, but it is worth it!