The number of students in Anne Arundel County who are English language learners (ELL) has increased five-fold since I started working, and my position has increased from part-time to full-time. But with the changing school populations, it’s an increasingly overwhelming caseload—far more demanding than my 37.5 hour work week allows.
As a speech pathologist, I get to work with teachers, other speech pathologists, and special educators. Teachers are very concerned, and often challenged, by the needs of their ELL students. In talking with the parents, we may discover that a child was in an incubator and there are developmental problems, or perhaps the child is simply going through the normal process of learning a new language. Sometimes a child’s linguistic mistakes or features transfer from the first to the second language. Part of what I do is provide teachers support to help sort out the differences. For many parents, my intervention is the first opportunity they’ve had to share their concerns with someone at school who speaks their language and can also communicate with their child’s teacher.
I have had to rely on my local representative two or three times in my 28-year career when administrators have misunderstood my role. The MSEA UniServ Director was able to clarify things and give me the support I needed. I feel very comfortable knowing there is a contract and an organization that supports that contract. Speech pathologists have gotten great support from MSEA and TAAAC. In fact, our pay scale was supported by TAAAC a few years ago, and it made a huge difference.