Holly Rutherford is a new face at schools in the Williams Lake area, working one-on-one with kids as a speech and language pathology student.
She is in the first year of a Master of Science degree in Speech and Language Pathology at the University of British Columbia and is doing her first practicum in Williams Lake with School District 27.
She is working with speech and language pathologist Heather Awmack, who is also a clinical educator.
Rutherford explained that this practicum gives her an introduction to what a pathologist does in practice, in a school setting.
“We do one practicum in a preschool, one in a public school and one with adults,” she said.
“My next practicum will be seven weeks in a health unit setting in Vancouver with preschoolers.”
After a week of observation, Rutherford had her first session with a student, whom she will see once or twice a week during her time in Williams Lake.
Awmack said that this is the third time she has supervised a speech and language pathology student on a practicum — something she finds enjoyable.
“I enjoy their enthusiasm and this is helpful to me,” she explained.
“They have all the up-to-date theory and can share it with me.”
She also said that she likes teaching and mentoring, and encouraging more people to get into speech and language.
“There is a shortage of people in this field; whoever gets this education will have a job,” she said, adding that there is a lot variety in the settings and situations in speech and language pathology. It can range from working with very young children, to people who have had strokes or are in rehab for a brain injury.
In a school setting, a pathologist often shares a space with psychologists, councillors or audiologists.
Feedback from classroom teachers about how speech and language services helps their students is positive, says Awmack.
She explains that the changes don’t come overnight.
“We see small steps in progress, but it takes a long time before those changes are obvious to most people,” she noted. “We might work with a child for two months, six months or for several years.”
Rutherford said that she is thoroughly enjoying her time in Williams Lake, stating that she loves being outdoors.
“I like hiking, kayaking, canoeing, camping—I really like Scout Island,” she said.
“I chose this career because of the diversity and also because it’s something that people really need. I like helping people and making a real difference in their lives.”