Unlocking Potential: Partnering with a School Speech-Language Pathologist

Seeing your child struggle with communication can be concerning, but with the support from a speech-language pathologist (SLP), he/she can overcome this hurdle. Discover the benefits of having an SLP conveniently located at your child’s school, and meet CCA’s newest SLP who will be serving students in Pre-K and Kindergarten!

As a parent, it can be concerning to see your child struggle with communication. Speech and language delays can have a significant impact on a child's academic, social, and emotional development.

According to HealthyChildren.org, “delays in language are the most common types of developmental delay; one out of five children will learn to talk or use words later than other children their age.”
"one out of five children will learn to talk or use words later than other children their age.”
For this reason, having a speech-language pathologist (SLP) conveniently located in your child's school can be so beneficial.

These professionals specialize in identifying, assessing, and treating speech and language disorders, including difficulties with language comprehension, articulation, and social communication.

Having an SLP in your child's school can provide numerous benefits, including:

    1. Early intervention for speech and language disorders – Research has shown that early intervention is crucial for children with speech and language disorders. When these issues are identified and addressed early, it can prevent long-term academic and social consequences.

    2. Improved academic performance – Children with speech and language disorders may struggle to understand and express themselves, leading to academic difficulties. By working with an SLP, children can improve their communication skills, leading to better academic performance.

    3. Enhanced social skills – Communication is a crucial aspect of socialization, and children with speech and language disorders may struggle to make friends and interact with their peers. An SLP can work with these children to improve their social communication skills, making it easier for them to form friendships and build relationships.

    4. Individualized treatment plans – SLPs work with children to create individualized treatment plans based on their specific needs. This allows them to tailor their approach to each child, resulting in more effective treatment and better outcomes.

    5. Collaboration with other professionals – SLPs work closely with other professionals, including teachers, occupational therapists, and psychologists, to ensure that children with speech and language disorders receive comprehensive support.

CCA Welcomes a New SLP

This school year, Calvary Christian Academy’s Fort Lauderdale campus hired its second in-house SLP: Melissa De Castro.

Prior to joining the CCA family, Melissa worked for Joe Dimaggio Children’s hospital as an SLP for five years and at a private practice for one year prior to that. She holds a master's degree from Nova Southeastern University in speech-language pathology and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Mrs. De Castro is fully bilingual in English and Spanish and regularly provides therapy in whichever language is preferred.

Melissa is a wife and a mother to two daughters – one is currently a Pre-K3 student at CCA. She was born in Cali, Colombia and moved to the U.S. when she was 12 years old. She has called South Florida home for the last 23 years.
“I am so happy to have the opportunity to utilize my knowledge and experience obtained throughout my career to serve the children and families of CCA,” said Melissa.

Since there are many speech needs in early education, Melissa serves Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten exclusively. Sherry Zimmerman, who has been an SLP at CCA for 14 years, primarily serves Grades 1-12.

Sherry has been working as an SLP for 27 years, mostly in the school setting, but she also has experience with swallowing disorders, stroke rehabilitation, and augmentative and alternative communication. She holds a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Florida Atlantic University, a teaching certificate, a Florida SLP license, and national certification from ASHA.

Sherry has been married for 23 years to Ronnie who still makes her laugh. They have a son who graduated from CCA in 2022, and a daughter who is a junior at CCA.

According to CCA’s Early Childhood Director, Jan Lashbrook, it is uncommon for private schools to have in-house SLPs; most private schools have outside therapists come in.

“Having an in-house SLP provides the students their best chance for success, as the therapy can happen during the school day during down times,” said Mrs. Lashbrook.
“Having an in-house SLP provides the students their best chance for success"
“School SLPs are available to stop by the classrooms to listen to students to determine if an evaluation should be completed. Then, once therapy has begun the SLP and teacher have the time and space to collaborate on best ways to meet a student’s needs.”

Biblical Encouragement

The Bible provides us with examples of individuals who God used in mighty ways despite their speech struggles. Moses was hesitant to become the leader God had called him to be because he had a speech impediment.

In Exodus 4:10, Moses expresses his concerns to God, saying, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." But God promised to be with Moses and give him the words to speak, and he went on to become a great leader and prophet.
God promised to be with Moses and give him the words to speak, and he went on to become a great leader and prophet.
Paul, one of the most influential figures in the early Christian church, struggled with a "thorn in the flesh," which scholars believe was a physical or speech-related ailment. He also faced criticism for his speaking abilities.

In 2 Corinthians 11:6, Paul writes, "Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things." And in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, he writes, "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

Despite being criticized for his speech, Paul refused to let it hold him back from spreading the gospel. He recognized that it was not his own eloquence that would convince people to believe, but rather the power of the message itself. Like Moses, Paul learned to rely on God's strength in his weakness.

We can trust that God has a plan for our children, and He can use their unique struggles and strengths to accomplish great things in their lives and for His Kingdom.

Next Steps to Consider

If you’re a current CCA parent who suspects that your child may have a speech or language delay, we encourage you to reach out to Pam Walker, CCA’s Lower School ESE Director, at PamW@CCAEagles.org to schedule an evaluation.

The fee for a speech evaluation is $125, and speech therapy sessions range between $30-$50 per session. With the help of CCA’s SLPs and dedicated team of educators, we can work together to ensure that your child reaches his/her full potential.

If your child attends another school, reach out to your child’s teacher to discuss if support from an SLP would be of benefit to your child. While some schools may not have SLPs on site, they can oftentimes refer out to private practices.

To learn more about enrolling your child in CCA’s Lower School (Pre-K–5th Grade) and/or ESE program, simply complete an inquiry form to get started. We’d love to meet you and partner together to ensure your child grows spiritually, academically, and socially!

Article written with assistance from ChatGPT.
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