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Interview with Deborah Adamczyk, CCC-SLP, Director of School Services of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

April 28, 2008

Linda Schreiber:Today I'm interviewing Deborah Adamczyk , the Director of School Services of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Deborah, congratulations on your new positionwe are glad you're on board.Deborah Adamczyk:Thank you, thank you.Linda:I know you are new to this position at A
Linda Schreiber:Today I'm interviewing Deborah Adamczyk , the Director of School Services of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Deborah, congratulations on your new positionwe are glad you're on board.

Deborah Adamczyk:Thank you, thank you.

Linda:I know you are new to this position at ASHA, but are you also new to the organization or have you had other responsibilities at ASHA in the past?

Deborah:This is my first position directly with ASHA but I have a history of interaction with ASHA as a volunteer through legislative council and committee work.

Linda:So what is your background previous to this position?

Deborah:I've worked in either a school setting or school-related setting for more than 30 years in Pennsylvania, both as a speech-language pathologist and as a special education coordinator in a suburban school district. I've also worked as a consultant with the State of Pennsylvania, in their special education resource network. Also, I was a master teacher for the speech, language, and hearing support programs in a suburban district in Pennsylvania. I've worked in urban, suburban, and rural settings with different populations. At one point, I was a specialist working with students who are deaf and hard of hearing. So, I have a broad background in school-based services.

Linda:You certainly do. You come to this position with a multitude of experiences in the school setting.

Linda:So tell me, Deborah, what are the roles and responsibilities of the Director of School Services?

Deborah:Well, it's a multifaceted position. The largest responsibility is to spearhead services to our membership, especially those members who are practicing in the schools environment. ASHA has a wide range of excellent services and supports so part of my job is to make sure those services continue.

It is also my role to help our members understand promising practices about service delivery, assessment, and remediationthe kind of information that evolves from researchand to help speech-language pathologists interpret how that impacts what they do in the schools.

My other role is to help speech-language pathologists understand the power of partnershipin fact, that's the theme for this year's ASHA Schools Conference, which will take place in Orlando July 25th through 27th. That's been established as the theme because so much of what we do needs to take place in the context of a partnership.

Linda:So, what do you see as the important issues for school-based speech-language pathologists?

Deborah:The major issues continue to be workload versus caseload and all that contributes to that, including the shortage issue. We still have a shortage of speech-language pathologists across the board in all kinds of environments. I think the workload/caseload issue does impact on whether people choose a school setting as a place to practice. The numbers of students speech-language pathologists are being asked to see in some areas of the country is a big concern, not only because of the time it takes to interact with those students, but also all the IDEA paperwork that goes along with that, all the consultation and collaboration.

Linda: Is there a remedy you foresee? It's been an issue for a long time.

Deborah:I think if we get more people to understand the issue of assigning speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in consideration of workload versus caseload, we could make great strides in recruiting SLPs to the school environment and retaining them in that setting.

Another big challenge for SLPs is responding to the mandates like No Child Left Behind, the changes in IDEA, and the changes evolving from due process. Helping speech-language pathologists understand all of that and giving them the resources they need to efficiently handle some of those mandates are part of my role too.

Linda:You mention collaboration and partnership as the theme for this year's ASHA Schools Conference. Do you have hopes or goals in that regard that you'd like to see achieved in your position?

Deborah:Yes, I do. ASHA and this department have done a very good job in understanding the needs of our membership and meeting those needs. We need to continue to do that in a financially sound way while staying on the cutting edge of where our field is moving. My goals are to continue the kinds of things we've done in terms of understanding: where the field is moving, what research is teaching us about new initiatives or new ways of doing things, learning from other professions and how they have managed compliance issues, and helping speech-language pathologists manage the multiple tasks required of them.

I'd also like to encourage th speech-language pathologists, who for a variety of reasons haven't made their concerns and needs knownthose that are learning as they practice in the fieldI would like to encourage them to take advantage of all the resources we have at ASHA. I'd like to find a way to tap into that group perhaps even some of them would serve on a committee that we can go to for feedback as different issues arise.

Linda:I imagine you'll have a role in helping reduce the SLP shortage in the schools.

Deborah:Yes, I would like to help address the speech-language pathology shortages and help find unique ways of addressing that. We've learned a lot&#59 we have a number of committees and people who have looked at that whole issue, but we need to get this information to administrators, supervisors, and consumers.

The other thing I would like to do is to help speech-language pathologists continue to feel proud of what they do. So often we're so focusedas we should beon enhancing our skills and moving forward and learning more, that sometimes we forget to take time to say to ourselves, "You're doing a wonderful job." I think we need to take time to do that to ourselves and to our peers and to recognize the outstanding service that speech-language pathologists provide.

Linda:I know you're quite involved in the ASHA School's Conference that will be coming in July. Is there any message you'd like to give members about the conference in Orlando this year?

Deborah:Yes, I think a couple of things. This year, we are working in collaboration with other groups. On Friday, we will be providing conference initiatives and topics not only relative to speech-language pathologists, but also to educational audiologists who are also working in the school setting. That's something a little bit new and exciting for both the audiologists as well as the speech-language pathologists.

Linda:Excellent&#59 a great way to attract both professions to the conference.

Deborah:We have a wonderful opening day speaker that will be very energizing and fun to listen to. Richard D. Lavoie will be drawing from 35 years of experience in the field of special education to share his perspective on the "state of special education." He will challenge and inspire all of us working in the field.

We also have an excellent closing session speaker, Sue T. Hale, who will help us find ways to exercise greater control of tasks as a means to feeling more satisfied in our work environments and to nurturing workplace relationships. The conference will be a celebration of collaboration and partnerships.

Linda:And there will be an array of sessions?

Deborah:The session speakers are some of the best experts in the field and they will give very pragmatic ideas. People will go away from the conference with a lot of great tools, and thoughts, and experiences they can take back to their school settings the very next day. Participation in this kind of conference is so vital just to make connections with peers where you can sit down and ask each other, "What's going on in your state?" or "How are you handling this?". It will be a time to compare notes. I think we learn a lot from each other.

Linda:And will you have poster sessions this year as in the past?

Deborah:The poster sessions are being delivered by those of us who have been practicing day-to-day in the field. They have some exciting projects to share with us.

Linda:I always enjoy the ASHA Schools Conference and know others do too. Thanks for your part in organizing it. Deborah, how can readers be in touch with you if they want to share their needs and concerns?

Deborah:My email address is dadamczyk@asha.org. They can also reach me through the 800 number posted on our website: www.asha.org. I will be at the Schools Conference as well as at the national conference next fall. I would love to have people touch base with me. I'm just so excited about being in touch with members and listening to them as much as possible and in as many venues as possible.

Linda:You have great enthusiasm for your new position. I know you want to hear the voice of members and I know members will want to talk with you. On that note, thank you for your interview today Deborah. We will do our part to get the message out to members about the ASHA Schools Conference and your invitation for school-based members to be heard.