TOW Salfrank1

St. Joseph Grade School speech-language pathologist Emily Salfrank poses for a photo with fourth-grader Blake Cavanaugh.

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Meet St. Joseph Grade School speech-language pathologist — and motorcycle enthusiast — EMILY SALFRANK, The News-Gazette’s sixth Teacher of the Week for the 2019-20 school year.

Have someone you’d like to nominate? Contact Anthony Zilis at

When it comes to my most fulfilling moment on the job ... nothing is as rewarding as seeing one of my students become confident in their own voice. It’s not always easy — for the therapist or student — and successes are often a long time in the making, but throwing in the towel is never an option.

It may be the same exercises or skill targets over and over for days, weeks or even months, but watching my students who never give up, and give their best effort day in and day out is amazing to witness. When a student finally achieves a goal they’ve worked so hard and so long for, there’s nothing more rewarding.

I find my work important because ... speech-language pathologists facilitate the development of effective and efficient communication skills so that students may successfully participate as fully as possible in the educational, social and vocational interactions that commonly occur within their learning environments.

SLPs have the clinical training to provide services across all grade levels to students exhibiting the full range of communication disorders, including those involving language, speech sound disorders, fluency, voice/resonance and swallowing, which may stem from a multitude of etiologies.

SLPs are an essential member in their school communities and work in sync with special education and school-based teams in the best practices of prevention, identification, assessment evaluation, eligibility, determinations, intervention, program design, data collection, analysis and compliance.

I became a teacher because ... choosing to work in an educational setting provides me with the opportunity to work in a collaborative environment alongside like-minded professionals, as well as the opportunity to work with diverse children of all ages and skill levels.

I am able to foster relationships with my students and their families and watch them progress, grow and develop over time and have been fortunate enough to continue relationships with students who have ‘graduated’ from services.

I’m also passionate about ... food and traveling. I love to cook, and my husband and I love traveling by motorcycle. No matter where you venture or how far you ride, when you’re on your motorcycle, you never feel like you’re commuting. You feel like you’re traveling.

There’s a big distinction in there. Motorcycling is never about getting from A to B. Even if you’re going on a long weekend ride, you get the sense that you’re exploring, venturing out into the world, and discovering new things. And when you travel to another state or country, you’re taking things to a whole new level.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be ... a broadcast journalist.