Communication Sciences and Disorders

Alumna Named Speech-Language Pathologist of the Year for Orange County Public Schools

Written By: Amber Suarez Holsen | June 12, 2019

Amber (Suarez) Holsen ’14 MA was recently named Speech-Language Pathologist of the Year for Orange County Public Schools. Here is her story:

I graduated from UCF with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders. While pursuing my master’s degree, I was very fortunate to be in a grant program created by Linda I. Rosa-Lugo Ed.D., associate professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. The grant program better prepared me to work with English Language Learners.

I absolutely loved my experiences at UCF. I am very thankful for everything I learned and for my professors and mentors (Dr. Rosa-Lugo definitely influenced and shaped me to be the SLP I am today) and my clinical experiences from UCF.

I have been an SLP for OCPS for five years. All of my five years has been at Wolf Lake Elementary school in Apopka. I work with students in all grades from PreK through 5th grade. We have a few PreK VE (Varying Exceptionalities) units and then students with a variety of disabilities in the general education program (e.g. speech impaired, language impaired, IND, ASD). I absolutely love my school and my students. At Wolf Lake ES, there is very much a sense of family among the staff and we have a wonderful ESE team.

For a few years, I have been an “SLP Lead” where I basically help new SLPs in the county with learning OCPS’s policies and procedures related to being an SLP, give them therapy ideas and advice, help them with diagnostic assessments, etc.

This past school year, I was also the leader of my Professional Learning Community (PLC) which consists of about 10 SLPs in the area. Our PLC met a few times throughout the year to discuss a variety of topics such as our Deliberate Practice Plans (for Marzano), PLC presentations (we presented to other PLC groups about therapy ideas related to pragmatics and social language skills), and more. A couple times this school year, I also presented at a training for new SLPs called, “Wednesday with the Experts.” I presented on various technological resources and how to use them in therapy for a variety of ages.

I feel so honored that I was chosen as SLP of the year. It was a such a wonderful surprise and I know I have my peers to thank for such an awesome opportunity! “

From her nomination:

Amber is the leader of The North Stars PLC, a Speech Buddy, and the unofficial Speech Buddy to most members of our PLC. Amber demonstrates knowledge and skills in school-based Speech and Language Therapy. Moreover, she is able to share and describe these skills in a clear, comprehensible manner to individuals with varying levels of knowledge, including parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, and SLPs. She goes above and beyond expectations in her own work and in supporting her follow SLPs and colleagues!

Amber is always willing to offer a word of encouragement, especially when it seems like everything is happening at once! I can always count on Amber to listen to me vent or complain about the everyday stresses of school-based therapist. She is a great leader and I am so grateful for our friendship within and outside of work!

Amber is wonderful. I observed her in the pre-k classroom. She is very patient with the children and makes sure they understand the concept being taught before she moves on to something else. She is always willing to help me with additional resources or ideas she has used with her students. She is very knowledgeable regarding the computer and shares her knowledge with others

Amber is always willing to listen and take a phone call from a peer when the need arises. She always has a smile on her face and her laugh is sincere and contagious. She is eager to continue learning and she shares what she knows with her colleagues.

Amber has been a tremendous help this school year. Amber is an amazing leader and support system in our PLC. She offers helpful suggestions on implementation of goals and treatment ideas, and was able to help me understand the Domain 4 and iObservation process more clearly as a new OCPS clinician.

Amber has help me by allowing me to observe her during a therapy session with her Pre-K students. She has also provided me with many ideas for Pre-K lessons and helped me sign up for Boardmaker Online.