Published December 22, 2011
Original story found at www.uft.org
It was a high point of their lives. On Nov. 29, after three intense years of study, 25 speech teachers earned their master’s degrees — and celebrated that achievement — at a graduation ceremony held at UFT headquarters.
The event marked the culmination of difficult course work for these educators who had maintained full-time jobs in the schools while working toward a master’s in science in communication disorders, going through a clinical fellowship and passing the Praxis exam, according to UFT Teacher Center staffer Virginia Hill. They now have the letters “SLP” at the end of their names: speech language pathologist.
“It’s been an uphill climb. The view is beautiful,” noted Marie Gallo of Brooklyn’s PS 110.
“I can’t wait to have a life again,” reported graduate Eileen Noonan of IS 111 in Manhattan.
These were among the statements graduates wrote and that were read by staff members of the UFT Teacher Center Speech and Language Resource Center as each scholar went up on stage to receive a diploma.
The diploma came from Western Kentucky University, which provides a renowned, distance-learning program in speech pathology.
The school provided online coursework and access to professors while the Teacher Center provided the school-based clinical experience in “a unique collaboration between the university and the UFT,” said the university’s president, Dr. Gary Ransdell, in his opening remarks.
“You have not been on our main campus,” Ransdell said, alluding to the school’s home in Bowling Green, Ky., and the ceremony’s proximity to the Manhattan subway’s Bowling Green Station. “But you have been in our hearts for three years.”
UFT Secretary Michael Mendel spoke about his own experiences with a speech teacher when he was a middle school student, and Teacher Center Assistant Director Rita Danis spoke of the rigorous learning in the program and the sacrifices made by graduates and their loved ones.
Kimberly Baker of PS 182 in the Bronx won the Lorian Hill Clinical Excellence Award. Winning the Academic Excellence Awards were new UFT member Jessica Krivac (not yet asigned) and Marie Nogais of PS 136 in Queens.
“For three years of ‘boot camping,’ I held onto my motivation as if gasping for air,” Nogais wrote. “Now I can proudly say that I finally accomplished the dream.”