Amanda Carlone is one of Cairns Catholic Education’s passionate Speech Pathologists supporting students to achieve their full potential.
There are currently six Speech Pathologists who work to support students and teachers across the Diocese.
Amanda collaborates with schools as well as Cairns Catholic Education’s multi-disciplinary Allied Health Team made up of Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, Counsellors, and Education support staff such as our English as an Additional Language and/or Dialect Consultant, Hearing Consultant, Vision Consultant and other inclusive education team members.
Here’s what Amanda has to say about her work.
What do you do at Cairns Catholic Education and how long have you been working here?
I have been a Speech Pathologist with Catholic Education for four years. As a Speech Pathologist, I am in the Therapy Team (Student Wellbeing and Diversity) alongside other speech pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists.
What is the aim of your role at these schools?
The aim of our role is to examine speech, language, and communication needs of students and the impact of the difficulties they face including engaging in meaningful peer relationships and learning within the school environment.
We work collaboratively with teachers to support student access to all different aspects of the school environment and to support goal setting, and planning for students. For example, by participating in Student Personal Learning Plans and helping to implement interventions that support student learning goals.
What made you want to take this career path, and how does this relate to your interests/background?
I had a best friend when I was younger who had a speech impediment and saw a speech therapist in school. It wasn’t until I volunteered with a speech pathologist in an inner-city school as part of my linguistics course in my Honours degree, that I really understood what they did and fell in love with helping students achieve their full potential.
How do you work with school staff to complement their efforts?
We as an Allied Health Team work with school teams to provide whole-school professional development to staff. We often look at school data with them, to determine further assessments or possible programs that might be beneficial for the whole school in our specialty areas.
The collaboration we have with teachers is so important as it provides us insight into what a school day will typically look like for a student we might be working with. It also identifies opportunities that we might be able to use to provide more targeted support or practice skills within the classroom.
Which schools do you service in the Cairns Diocese?
I currently work in a variety of schools and contexts across the Diocese. My current caseload includes work at St Rita’s, Babinda; St John’s, Silkwood; St Augustine’s, Cairns; Mackillop Catholic College, Mount Peter; and St Francis Xavier, Cairns.
What age groups do you generally work with?
I currently work across all school grades from P-12, so I work with a range of students in different school stages.
There is a fantastic benefit to being able to work across schools and ages, as it provides us as therapists the opportunity to look forward for students and better understand what skills we need to be building to ensure that they are successful as they move from P-12.
It is also fantastic to be able to see how students progress with their goals from year to year.
What do you feel is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is collaborating with different people within the schools and better understanding the challenges in a real-world environment for students who struggle with language and speech difficulties.
I love being able to support students as a team to ensure they are the most successful that they can be within our Catholic Schools.
What is the most challenging part of your job and how do you manage this?
The most challenging part of our role as therapists can sometimes be understanding the educational context and rules around changing tasks to suit students.
This is why it is so important for us to work in collaboration with classroom teachers and have time to meet with them to better understand their context, as there are different perspectives to consider.
Tell us about your top career highlight(s) whilst working in the Cairns Diocese?
A top career highlight at Cairns Catholic Education has been collaborating with a high school team to support skill building for students with disabilities that will help them better access and prepare for pathways post-school.
This was a really great example of how much can be achieved with collaboration between a highly engaged leadership team, learning support team and therapy team within a school environment.
We are all continually learning from the experiences of working together.
Why do you think your role is important in Cairns’ Catholic schools?
It is important to have Allied Health within the schools to bring a different perspective to the team when supporting students.
Allied Health have specialist skills and can provide knowledge to support student’s learning needs, while teachers bring an in-depth knowledge of the curriculum and classroom, so they can often offer the most insight into how our recommendations can look within the classroom environment.