Impressive Team of SLPs Serving 200+ Students in West Valley School District

April 30, 2024
Mike Ralston
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Speech-language pathologist Magdalene Rose Lima-Fiallos grew up in South Texas in the town of McAllen. She has worked in a variety of settings, including private practice, schools, clinic and home health.

“I grew up in a bilingual home and my dad did not know English when I was born. My mom spoke to us in English and I remember correcting my dad's English as a young child since he had a very strong accent and did not know some words. I started doing accent reduction therapy on my dad as a young child. I always loved reading, writing and everything about language as well as teaching language to others,” says Magdalene.

Magdalene knew she wanted to become an SLP when she was a senior in high school. A friend of hers attended Baylor University and majored in Speech Pathology. Magdalene considered a career as a teacher, but the field of speech pathology intrigued her. She ultimately decided to attend Baylor and became roommates with her friend the following year. Magdalene graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Baylor. 

Life at West Valley School District

An SLP at West Valley School District since 2016, Magdalene supervises an SLPA at West Valley High School and a speech-language paraprofessional (speech para) at West Valley Middle School.

Magdalene lives in Florida so she starts her day rather early. Typically, it begins with a 8:00 a.m. Zoom call with her speech para to discuss the schedule and lesson plans, followed by therapy around 8:15 a.m. Sessions are held throughout the day, and most days include an IEP or Eligibility meeting to attend either before, after or during school hours. There are reports to write, emails to answer, phone calls to make, meetings to schedule and testing that needs to be scheduled or conducted. Magdalene uses Q-Interactive to assess students remotely. 

Magdalene Art Booth“I really love the role of supervising and still having daily interaction with the students at the middle school. I have enjoyed mentoring and training my SLPA and she is doing a fantastic job. I serve two self-contained classrooms at the high school and a self-contained classroom at the middle school. I treat a variety of students, including wheelchair-bound students with MS, nonverbal autistic students with devices, students with severe behavior disorders, and students with moderate articulation and language disorders.”

“I love working with my speech para, Bernadette. She is such a valuable team member and the students love her. I also am so happy to supervise Diane at the high school. She is amazing with the students and makes great connections with even our most disabled students. The Special Education staff at both schools are fantastic. I have worked with the school psychologist at the middle school for seven years. She is so wonderful and I have learned a lot from her,” adds Magdalene. 

Navigating a Difficult Transition

Magdalene loves the clinician support from the administration team at Care Options for Kids/The Hello Foundation and the support the clinicians provide each other. 

“It's amazing to work for a company that puts Kids first and values work-life balance. Working as a teletherapist is a dream come true.”

Magdalene’s proudest accomplishment was in 2016 when she moved from being a clinic therapist in Fort Worth, TX, to a teletherapist with Care Options for Kids/The Hello Foundation in Yakima, WA.

“I had my work cut out for me. I was new to teletherapy, new to the Pacific Northwest and West Valley School District had never really heard of teletherapy to be honest. There was a lot of adjusting that needed to happen —--proving myself as an SLP, learning the educational SLP skillset vs. clinical skillset, working with and training speech paras, navigating how to conduct my job via teletherapy and breaking down barriers about teletherapy in the district staff and administration.”

Fortunately, Magdalene had a great special education director there who was very open and accommodating, and she had a very knowledgeable and supportive staff at Care Options for Kids/The Hello Foundation. 

“Still, it took a lot of courage and flexibility, plus communication, to make those first years at WVSD a success. I'm very proud of helping build that bridge for all of the teletherapists that came after me in the district. We now have five teletherapists at WVSD, and three with Care Options for Kids/The Hello Foundation,” says Magdalene.

Enjoying the Work-Life Balance

Magdalene is an artist in her spare time. She paints in mixed media, collage, acrylic and alcohol inks with resin. She sells her art online and at shows. 

“I also am a dog mom to two adorable Brittany Spaniels. My husband and I love to hike and travel. We recently took up pickleball and are joining a group that plays at my church.” 

Dogs and hiking in WA stateMagdalene is very involved in her church, Haven Worship Center, in Winter Haven, FL. She sings in the Worship choir twice a month on Sundays and leads a Haven Group called Artists of Faith, Hope and Love. 

“We meet on Sunday afternoons each spring and fall semester and I teach expanding creativity, art techniques as well as painting from your heart. I love being involved in my community.” 

Magdalene says her dad, Rev. Felix Lima, is her biggest inspiration. 

“He had dedicated his life to helping others in the ministry. I grew up watching him work tirelessly serving the less fortunate. I used to accompany him visiting people in their make-shift homes in very poor areas along the Texas-Mexico border. We found people living without running water, no electricity and basically living in shacks. My dad was a Cuban immigrant himself, so he had great compassion for these families. We brought them food, clothing and toys. We delivered meals at Thanksgiving. My dad arranged for families to get medical help, education and transportation to church.” 

“He died at 51 years of age after serving the community for 19 years. After his death, there were so many stories of how he had touched individual lives and made a difference. I wanted to enter a profession that would bring hope and make a difference in people's lives as well.” 

Oregonian Janet Murphy Manages Diverse Caseload 

Rita & Del’s April 2018 (5)Oregon native and speech-language pathologist Janet Murphy grew up in Eugene and moved to Portland shortly before starting graduate school. She realized she wanted to become an SLP when visiting a friend and met one of her co-workers who happened to be an SLP.

“This woman talked about her work, and I found it fascinating. I asked her if I could observe her at work and loved what I saw. I researched the career to make sure there would be job opportunities and found that it was in demand,” says Janet. 

Janet started looking at requirements for graduate school and started her post-baccalaureate work at Portland State University before applying to graduate school.

Cherishing the Relationships at WVSD

Janet serves the junior high school and the Innovation Center (a STEM-focused school for seventh through 12th grade students) within the West Valley School District. A member of the WVSD team for the last four years, she also sees a private school second grade student and an eighth grade virtual school student, and she just started with six elementary students that she shares with another SLP. 

“What I have loved most about the West Valley School District is the staff, both tele-therapists as well as district employees. They are great people to work with and they really appreciate the service we provide. The junior high school has been a consistent part of my assignment throughout my four years at WVSD, but I also love working at the Innovation Center.”

Rita & Del’s April 2018 (25)“Last year a provisional SLP was hired to work directly for the district, and I was assigned to complete all the evaluations at that school. I loved supporting her by completing these evaluations and answering her questions about goal writing or just listening when she had a rough day. I love that I feel like I have been able to help in so many places in this district and have many connections to the people working in the district,” adds Janet.

Most days Janet and her assistant log in and work with scheduled students, leading the sessions on an alternating basis. If she needs to complete reports or attend meetings, her assistant conducts the plans that she writes. When Janet is on-site (one week per month), she often evaluates students or consults with staff.

Unique Benefits of School-Based Services  

Janet started working as an SLP for the Hello Foundation (now Care Options for Kids) in the fall of 2017, and notes that the company is uniquely positioned to help school districts that struggle to staff their schools. 

“We have so many options to help and each employee can find a position that fits their needs. There is an emphasis on work/life balance, which I appreciate. Because COFK/Hello has a variety of positions to fill, it allows employees more flexibility and if their needs/wants change, they may be more likely to find a position they love while continuing to work for the same company,” adds Janet.

Her proudest moment as an SLP was when a child said his first word during speech therapy. Once he said his first word, he quickly added new words. He was adopted shortly after he started talking and his foster mom told her at their last session that she had thought he would never speak and would need to be institutionalized. Janet thinks of this boy often and knows that she changed his life for the better.

In her spare time, Janet likes to kayak, walk, hike and visit friends.

“My husband and I go to Guatemala every few years to visit his family. My favorite places in Guatemala are Tikal and Antigua. I also like exploring parts of the U.S. that I have never seen, and I love going to the beach no matter what the weather. I sometimes make loom-knit winter hats and have dabbled in macrame too.”

“My aunt Rita is a big influence on me. She has courage and has traveled a lot, living in many different places. She has worked in many different industries. She is competent and kind. She has quiet confidence and strength,” adds Janet.

Paige Searcy Enjoying the Pacific Northwest 

image (17)Speech-language pathologist Paige Searcy grew up in Jacksonville, FL. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Florida State University in Tallahassee. 

An English Literature major, Paige always enjoyed reading, traveling and being outside as much as possible. She moved to the Pacific Northwest four years ago so that she could live in the mountains and enjoy more exposure to outdoor sports. 

“I initially lived in Yakima where I learned how to ski and mountain bike, then moved to the Columbia Gorge where I learned how to white water kayak,” says Paige.

It was during a volunteer stint at a children’s hospital working on the speech floor that Paige knew she wanted to become an SLP.

“I started volunteering with different therapists and earned shadowing hours. During that time I was able to observe a swallow study, a cochlear implant surgery, and the auditory/verbal therapy that followed the surgery. After that and seeing what an impact speech therapists can make, I decided to go to graduate school,” adds Paige.

As an SLP in the WVSD, Paige works with mostly gen ed language and articulation therapy, but she also serves students with AAC/communication devices and handles both treatment and evaluations. A typical work day for Paige includes lesson planning each day and visiting students with her assistant, Beverlee. She has anywhere between 8-10 groups a day, and then usually a student meeting, like an IEP or evaluation, in the afternoon. Paperwork and phone calls complete her day.

“I love working with my students that have more complex communication needs and use technology and alternative modes of communication.” 

image (16)Paige’s proudest accomplishment is earning her Master’s degree. 

“It took a lot of hard work and I am so proud of the fact that I was able to go to school for something that I am still so passionate about.”

In her spare time, Paige enjoys white water kayaking, mountain biking and going to concerts. Her dad is her biggest inspiration.  

“He has always encouraged me to go out and adventure and do my best. I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to move to the other side of the country without his support,” adds Paige. 

Tips for New Clinicians

  • Trust yourself, but reach out when you need help (Janet). Sometimes new clinicians underrate their skills and knowledge, but you have so much to offer due to your years of training and as you gain experience, you will have even more to offer. 

  • Take it one day at a time (Paige).

  • Document well (Janet). Sometimes there will be tricky situations that come up in your work setting. Perhaps someone is being unreasonable, and it impacts what you can do. Note that in your log for that student and if a pattern continues you will have the documentation to ask for help.

  • Don't be afraid of a challenge (Magdalene). I think my biggest learning opportunities as a new clinician were those times I felt totally unprepared and inadequate to help a certain client or student. I would dive into books, research the internet and reach out to more experienced SLPs to help me gain the knowledge and skills I needed to take on any new challenge. Successful people ask questions. I would take CEU courses if I needed to in new areas. I trusted my skills and intuition to implement the new knowledge. Read the book "The Obstacle is The Way'' by Ryan Holliday.

  • Be flexible and ready for change (Paige).

  • Prioritize work life balance (Magdalene). You owe it to yourself to always put your health and well-being first. You can't be any good to anyone else if you are depleted and sick. You have to put your oxygen mask on first. Create a joyful life you love and look forward to outside of work and have firm boundaries on when work has to stop. Participate in outside activities that pour energy into your heart and refresh you. Believe me, that paperwork will still be there in the morning and deadlines are negotiable. Don't worry so much about details or pettiness. Enjoy your life and celebrate little things. Remember that the positive connections you make with people are more important than getting all the things done. Read "Essentialism" by Greg McKeown.

  • Organize, plan and set goals to create a calm and peaceful life (Magdalene). Intentionally decide and execute daily routines and habits that are consistent and propel you forward. Decide what you value most and let your time, energy and attention be given to that. I am an artist at heart so believe me, this does not come naturally but as I have gotten older, I have made it a lifelong pursuit. Everyone can learn to have an organized home, office, schedule and life. Setting goals, having things planned out and breaking a big dream down into small reasonable parts makes it less stressful and attainable. Decluttering your home and workspace, reviewing your life goals at the end of the year, and planning ahead by putting things on your calendar helps reduce stress and overwhelm. Read "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhig, Read "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. 

  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to other SLPs and ask questions (Paige).

Join Our Team

Care Options for Kids, formerly The Hello Foundation, partners with school districts to provide seamless support for students, integrating into the school setting to deliver speech and occupational therapy and enhancing their social, emotional, and behavioral growth so they can better access the curriculum.

At Care Options for Kids, we are committed to making a difference for our people through empowerment and encouragement to be there for themselves and their own families. We provide the choices and opportunities our people need to enhance their lives and grow their careers so they can provide better care for others. We believe in making a difference in every way, every day.

We hire speech-language pathologists, speech-language pathology assistants, school psychologists, and occupational therapists. Our community of professionals fosters growth for one another and for the kids we serve. Join our team!