Marjorie Childs graduated from UMF in 1989. She is a teacher at the China school system in Maine as a Speech-Language Pathologist and a proud mother of two.
Tell us about one of your favorite Honors Courses at UMF.
I would have to say that my Perspectives on Nature course, taught by Dr. Dean was the first and most memorable course I took. In Dr. Bennett’s class, I loved going to his home and walking through the woods and learning to spend time focusing on little things, such as a cobweb or a blossoming lady slipper. It was amazing to be invited into the homes of the Honors Professors and see them as real people and have intense conversations with professors on an informal level.
What was the experience of writing a thesis like?
I have become more active in my professional world as an SLP and it all began with my thesis paper I wrote as part of my Honors Program at UMF. I surveyed all of the SLPs in the state of Maine. It was a daunting undertaking at the time and I wish I still had all the responses to read through! I learned many facets about the changing face of the profession that I was about to enter. I have worked in a few settings, but primarily in the public schools. This is a challenging field, as we are expected to be a quasi-teacher and also fill the role of specialist in the very broad area of communication skills. My survey found many SLPs struggling with this very topic and I have spent the last 25+ years gradually gaining a better understanding of the real challenges of delivering speech language services in the schools.
What did you do directly after graduating from UMF?
After I graduated, I began my M.A. at U Maine (Orono) right away – that summer! I spent two amazing years at UMaine, digging deeper into the science of communication disorders. I have always felt like my job as an SLP is to help others, both clients and also help my peers who are also working in this field. Since getting my master’s degree, I have supervised numerous practicum students. I have learned so much about my profession through supervision.
What has the experience of working in the China School Systems been like for you?
I have had many wonderful experiences at CPS! The staff is amazing and we collaborate on each student, and I know that I am blessed to have this opportunity to help children in a team environment. The children are all special and my job allows me to work with a student for sometimes several years – so I gain a bond with them and can watch them develop in ways that other school staff often cannot see. I also love sitting down with co-workers to problem solve about student needs. I have become passionate about the RTI (response to intervention) program in our district. I co-lead the RTI Team at our school and it is exciting to see staff working to improve the learning of students in new ways.
Tell us about the Maine Speech Language Hearing Association.
I have been secretary for the Maine Speech Language Hearing Association (MSLHA) for six years. We have worked hard in our executive council work to help people in Maine with communication needs, as well as the professionals (SLPs, Audiologists, teachers, family) that support these people and their needs. It is a commitment that gives me opportunities to network with SLPs around the state and I spend a lot of my ‘free time’ working on tasks for the organization, such as prepping for our yearly conference or helping with notifications that go out to all speech language pathologists in our state. Last year I headed up the committed for our 50th anniversary as an organization – and had such a rewarding time with the other SLPs on the committee, as well as spending the year writing weekly blogs on our state website to highlight anecdotes about Maine’s history in the area of speech and hearing disorders.
What did you learn in your college experience that you are passing on to your children?
I am SO proud of my scientist son Adam, at Berkeley, working on his PhD in Chemistry and also my son Zachary, in his second year at USM working on his Health Science degree. My husband, Bill, teaches math at Erskine Academy, and education has been the heart of our home-life. We encourage them both to get involved with activities that interest them on campus, but to put studies first!
If you could give a piece of advice to a freshman just entering UMF, what would it be?
I would strongly encourage a freshman to look at all course offerings and take on a class whenever possible in an area of interest that may be outside of your major and even ‘outside their comfort zone’. There are so many amazing professors and learning opportunities, that I fear many students earn a degree without exploring topics that may someday blossom into a lifetime hobby or passion.