Working in a Culture of Community & Collaboration

In a previous life, before becoming a speech-language pathologist, I worked for Kraft Foods for four years following college. My job was in supply chain and operations, making connections between sales and the buyers to fill orders, satisfy promotions, and run interference between all parties. My phone would light up only when there was a problem, which of course meant I was on the phone almost all day long. Typical problems were issues with deliveries, like a lost truck of Capri Sun and the huge risk of a missed promotion due to lack of product, or the usual shortages and overages that made it difficult to make the customer happy on a consistent basis. I learned how to finesse challenging relationships, and consider the four years I spent there as getting another bachelor’s degree in the inner workings of a major corporation. However, I began to feel that my work was generally unimportant to the larger world. I started to search for a new career in which I could make a difference in others’ lives, beyond filling orders for major grocery chains. That’s when I discovered the profession of speech-language pathology. I left my work at Kraft and took on the daunting task of going back to school.

After graduate school, I spent 10 years working in-person in schools in the Chicagoland area, including Chicago Public Schools, and then in 2016, I transitioned to teletherapy and fell in love with the workflow of online service delivery. But in the spring of 2020 as the pandemic took hold, I started to realize that it would be too much for me to hold down a caseload and help my own children learn from home. In June I reached out to Emily Smith, the CEO of TeleTeachers, who I had met the prior year at the 2019 ASHA Connect conference and asked about possible supportive roles TeleTeachers might have. So last summer I walked away from treating and evaluating to work for TeleTeachers in a part-time capacity, training providers in the ways of online learning. The opportunity to work for TeleTeachers came at the right time in my career, and was a welcome change during the stress of the pandemic. Working as a speech-language pathologist for fourteen years was wonderful, but I really wanted to take a new step in a different direction. I wanted to move into a supportive role to help providers learn how to be effective in their online work with students. I thought that when I had worked with my caseload, I could change my students’ lives. But working with educators directly, I can impact their lives and the lives of their students with the learning that they gather from my instruction and training. 

TeleTeachers has a variety of strengths when compared to my previous employment experiences. First of all, TeleTeachers is younger and more nimble as an organization because they have not become entrenched and inflexible as many mature companies. I like that the company is not afraid to make mistakes and is committed to growing and changing. Secondly, the team at TeleTeachers is special because of the culture of collaboration and community. I was in a meeting with a clinician a couple of weeks ago and she said, “It feels like we are all working in person.” The ability to make people feel like we are co-workers in a virtual setting is incredibly special and unique to TeleTeachers. Third, many of the people in charge are educators and clinicians, which means that they care and are willing to go the extra mile for other staff members –because they really have been there. I think that people who choose to work for TeleTeachers will feel the support from management and providers because it is a cohesive organization. 

 Working for TeleTeachers is a “full circle moment” for me. I started my career with a large corporation, then worked as a speech-language pathologist for several districts and companies, and now I’m back working for a company. But this time it is a smaller, close-knit organization. TeleTeachers is a company I feel proud to work for and I invite you to join us.

Posted by

Sarah Wu

Sarah is a bilingual speech-language pathologist with over 14 years of therapy experience. Originally working in the business sector for a consumer packaged goods firm, Sarah pivoted and decided to obtain her Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Northwestern University. She joined TeleTeachers as a training coordinator in July 2020, and is utilizing her business acumen and creativity in onboarding new educators into the company. In 2014, Sarah opened her online teaching resource store, Sarah Wu TeachersPayTeachers, to offer free and paid resources created by educators. Sarah has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Australia.