Career: Pediatric speech language pathologist
UH degree: MS in speech pathology ’00 Mānoa
Home: Long Valley, N.J.
Family: Husband Kevin, children Shane and Kyle
Favorite activities: Hiking, reading, cooking with the kids
Pets: Bailey the border collie and Ginger the hound, both adopted from the Humane Society
Goal: Increase awareness about speech/language impairments and break down stereotypes sometimes associated with special education
While exploring majors at James Madison University, Ronda Wojcicki took career counseling tests. Speech pathology topped the list of potential matches, and she was hooked after the first class.
Her search during graduate school for a book that would help children understand speech therapy wasn’t as fruitful. She finally figured out that she’d have to write it herself, but life—heavy caseloads, moves to follow her husband’s military assignments, the birth of two children—kept getting in the way.
Training for a marathon while at home with a newborn during her husband’s deployment to Iraq gave her time to organize the story in her mind. Sheer determination and her husband’s encouragement to “do it before someone else does” saw her through the writing, editing, art direction and publication process.
She was intent on making the book authentic to the experience of children in speech therapy. “I think we really captured the essence of the experience of so many children,” says Wojcicki, who has worked with children from preschool through high school in public schools and outpatient facilities from Hawaiʻi to the East Coast.
In Speech Class Rules, a girl named Laney Lynn explains what she and fellow students do and the rules they have to follow in Miss W’s speech class. Questions are provided for discussions at school and home. The book received a 2008 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and 2010 Mom’s Choice Gold Award. More at www.thespeechplace.com.
Wojcicki’s advice to parents of children with speech or language impairment: Get involved with the teacher, speech therapist and local speech and hearing association; treat the experience as a family journey; and celebrate every small victory.