"I love boosting their (students') self-esteem, making them feel good about themselves, helping them to communicate," says Kelly Fuller, a speech pathologist at Head Elementary School. She helps her students overcome language and articulation problems.
One of her strategies is using therapies the kids enjoy doing. Second grader Gus Loria says he, "sounds out words and sometimes we draw a picture."
First grader Wallace Salary adds, "...and then she lets us play with the puzzles and stuff and games."
Along with classroom exercises, Fuller also assigns speech work for children to do at home. She sees kids in grades kindergarten through six and works with them in small groups. Fuller says, "speaking is very important for job purposes, to make your wants and needs known in life, to take a stand for what you believe in. So I do believe that that really helps a child as they grow in school and when they become adults."
Her support for children isn't confined to academics, when one student needed to go to Birmingham for cancer treatments, Fuller baby-sat her siblings. Her colleagues say she helps every child facing hard times. Principal Susan Mallett says, "whatever those students need she gives to them. Some of our students in one family could not afford even to get a haircut; and she volunteers to give them haircuts in the afternoon. She buys them groceries, she buys food and clothing for the students when they need them."
Fuller says, "just to help any family that's in need makes me feel good. I just love helping people I always have."
Fuller was selected as Head Elementary's teacher of the year; but she also spends two mornings a week however, at Macmillan International Magnet School.
Education Reporter: Michael Briddell