June Spotlight | Johna Harrington, M.S. CCC-SLP
by Elise Mitchell, M.S. CCC-SLP, Chief Clinical Officer
Our June spotlight is such a privilege to work with, not only for her amazing skillset but for her passion for helping each and every one of her students. Johna Harrington, M.S. CCC-SLP, is one of those teletherapists that instantly becomes an extended member of her placement school’s team and develops strong relationships with the staff and families of her students. Although her speech therapy skills are remarkable, what really sets her apart, and makes her this month’s spotlight, is the extra things she does to support her school--truly embracing that partnership.
What made you want to become a speech therapist?
I am a fairly indecisive person when it comes to major decisions, so I took the long road to becoming a speech therapist. In fact, I didn’t even know about speech therapy until I was an adult and was well on my way to receiving my degree in nursing and applying to medical school. In my teens, I had two different but important experiences that guided my interests: I lost my dad from a traumatic brain injury and I spent a year working after school with a young boy who has autism. These experiences led me to become fascinated with neurology, and I loved the idea of being able to help people build or regain independence in their daily lives; however, after various life events during my undergrad, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to become a physician. I started looking into other careers and stumbled across speech pathology. Once I job shadowed and did some research, I knew speech therapy was a good fit. It allows me to combine my scientific mind with my desire to teach and get to know my clients while helping them to improve their independence. As a speech therapist, you quickly learn that communicating and eating safely are two abilities we take for granted. It is very rewarding to be able to help people of all ages to build these skills and improve their quality of life.
What made you want to join the DotCom Therapy team?
There are two main reasons I wanted to join DotCom: I wanted to work with children again, and I needed better work-life balance. Prior to joining DotCom, my most recent experiences were working in the medical field primarily with adults. Although I thoroughly enjoy working with adults, I missed working with kids, too. DotCom allows me to work with children with more flexibility than a brick and mortar school can provide. My husband is in construction and works long hours at times, and we have two sons who keep us very busy with sports and activities in the evenings. I was really struggling with balancing my work schedule, taking our boys to their activities, and feeling like I was doing a good job at work AND at home. I had spoken with other therapists who work at DotCom, and once I knew about the culture and DotCom’s desire to work with therapists to build a work-life balance, I knew it was something I wanted to try.
What has been your favorite thing about teletherapy?
I’ve never been one to shy away from technology for learning - many of my college courses were online; however, even with experience with online learning, I have been pleasantly surprised by how effective teletherapy is! Students love being able to come to the ipad or computer for therapy- it feels like play for them. The online format with video conferencing allows me to provide both the human interaction and the ability to quickly pull up therapy resources tailored to students’ interests, which keeps them actively engaged in the session and results in students loving speech therapy and progressing towards their goals. Win-win!
Fill in the blank. When I’m not working, you’ll most likely find me…
at the baseball field, mat side watching my boys wrestle, or floating the river!