3 out of 4 stars
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P.S.S.T. Public School Speech Therapist: (The Best Kept Secret in the Public Schools), by W. Ray, is a relatively short, non-fiction book. A professional speech-language pathologist, W. Ray uses the experiences (positive, negative, humorous, or bizarre) she encountered while working in several states for over sixteen years to take us on an enlightening and sometimes amusing journey through the life of a speech therapist in a public-school setting.
Through the years, she found the position to be a highly stressful job that was often underappreciated by both teachers and administration. This proved to be the case regardless of the location or stated policies of the school systems in which she worked. Because of this widespread tendency by school faculty, staff, and administration to discount the merit of the position, Ray felt a need to raise awareness about public-school speech therapists' value and importance. Her goal is to engender more recognition and support for these therapists and what they do every day, both with and for students.
Among the issues addressed in the book are the challenges faced by speech therapists working in several schools when they have no permanent office. She also discusses the loneliness the position can bring in the absence of the much-needed respect from and camaraderie with fellow teachers. A similar lack of respect and understanding originates with the administration when the speech therapist, regarded as ‘supplementary’ personnel, is assigned paperwork or duties having nothing to do with their position. These are only a few of the issues the author addresses.
My favorite thing about the book was the thread of humor woven throughout the narrative, regardless of the subject being discussed. Ray includes amusing stories related to these issues and easily conveys her love of the job and the work she does with children. Her style of writing is clear, uncomplicated, and engaging. Having worked for twenty-plus years in several public-school systems, I found this book quite interesting. When I taught Special Education, my position was also considered ‘supplementary’ by some principals and teachers. This allowed me to empathize with Ray’s experiences more easily.
There was nothing I truly disliked about the book, and if I could score it solely on its clarity and relevance, as well as my enjoyment of it, I would award it a solid four stars. However, the many punctuation errors found in the text prevent me from doing this. Although these mistakes affected my enjoyment of the book very little, they numbered far more than ten. Therefore, I must reluctantly drop a star and score the book at 3 out of 4 stars.
Though targeted at public school educators and administrators, as well as public-school speech therapists, the book might also interest those looking to enter the profession as it discusses situations unique to the speech-therapist position. Those who have not worked in the education sector may not find it engaging. I strongly encourage all public-school educators and administrators who work in any capacity with an in-school speech therapist to read the book. It will be very enlightening.
P.S.S.T.- Public School Speech Therapist
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