Today, we’d like to introduce you to Sherri Jaster. Sherri was introduced to us by the brilliant and talented Ebony Green.
Sherri, thank you so much for joining us today. We’d love for you to bring our readers up to speed – can you introduce yourself and share your story?
I’ve always loved working with and mentoring children, even when I was a child (teenager). I was inspired to go into education to become a teacher and make a difference in children’s lives. I was a kindergarten and first grade teacher for six years. I worked in both Arizona and Oregon. I loved teaching and engaging kids in creative ways to learn and have fun. My heart was in it to help make a difference and set a positive example to my students that they could achieve anything they set their minds to. Sadly, the state of education and politics in our country left me feeling defeated by administrative red-tape. I couldn’t teach the best practices that I had been trained and educated for as an early childhood teacher. I knew I wanted to continue on the path of providing support, education and fun to young children in some manner, but could no longer “teach-to-the-test”.
I decided to change my career to become a speech language pathologist. I had worked with several SLPs across my career as a teacher and realized becoming a SLP would allow me more flexibility in job opportunities and in a wide variety of settings. I quit teaching in 2012 and pursued this new journey by going back to school full-time to gather the post-bach credits needed to apply for graduate school. I became a certified SLP- Assistant while attending graduate school at Northern Arizona University’s Summer’s Graduate program for Communication Disorders. However, I continued to work in the public school system as a SLPA, so I could have my summers to attend graduate school.
I worked in a variety of schools; from Preschool to Jr. High. I enjoyed the work and loved my students. When I completed my Master of Science in 2017 I wanted to finally try something outside of the school setting. I worked in a private school that was also a clinic for children with disabilities. Next, I worked as a SLP for Arizona’s Early Intervention Program (birth-3). This is where I found my niche and my love of helping families and their littles over-come their early language delays and disorders. However, working early intervention came with its flaws; one being driving many miles and hours everyday to and from the region I worked, as well as to client homes. My body couldn’t handle the car rides and neither could my patience on the commute. In December 2019, I took the plunge of quitting my job to start my own business as an SLP that focused on providing support to families and private daycares/preschools. Sadly, the Pandemic and Covid-19 placed a jarring halt on my personal venture of being my own boss and providing support and services the way I had hoped. I did not work for a majority of the pandemic, until July 2020; when a former cohort member from graduate school, Ebony Green, reached out to me online when she saw I was looking at various contract companies to work for via tele-therapy. Ebony, the CEO of CASA Speech and Development, had a great opportunity for me to work from home during the pandemic. Ebony had a contract to provide speech services to a school district in Northern AZ. I would supervise SLPAs servicing their high schools. So, alas, I was working for public education again. This time in very different role of being a SLPA supervisor and evaluating students in high school. I can officially say I have worked from birth- 22; all while wearing various hats. I enjoyed the opportunity that Ebony provided and when she was opening her 2nd clinic in the metro-phoenix area, I knew I had to be a part of it. Ebony was very supportive and understanding of my desires to have my own business and most of all my desire and love of working with the littlest of our clients and their families. Ebony provided me the role of heading her new clinic as her Lead Speech Language Pathologist at CASA Speech and Development. My journey took me down some various forks in the road, but I have found my home and the place where my educator heart has always desired to be!
Let’s talk about your work and career – what else should we know?
I get to play for a living! People used to tell me Kindergarten must be fun, you play and paint all day and they pay you for it!! It was fun, but it came with so much dedication, hard work and grit. I put in so much time and also my heart. Yes, I do play; but with a purpose. I make therapy so much fun, kids and parents don’t realize they are learning! I love what I do everyday. I get to support children and families with their communication and language needs. Everyday is something different, so it keeps me on my toes. Watching children find their voice and make functional and academic gains is priceless! Another thing about my job that I truly value is getting to make connections and relationships with families. It’s hard having raising kids and I am honored to be a part of their journey and providing them a resource and outlet to be honest about the difficulties. I tend to be a counselor and confident for families as they navigate the challenges of raising a child with communication delays. I feel valued and needed for a positive purpose.
Ebony Green and CASA Speech and Development Services have been great to us and I know you’ve got a great relationship with them as well. Maybe you can tell our audience a bit about Ebony Green and CASA Speech and Development Services and your experience with them.
Ebony is a go-getter. She is a strong and independent clinician and business owner. When Ebony has a goal in mind she doesn’t just reach it, she expands it and then sets another goal even higher. I met Ebony in graduate school and right away I admired her confidence and work ethic. I couldn’t imagine trying to go to graduate school while raising a two year old, but she did it all with grace.. She went through so much that first summer, not only as a student, but a mother and wife.
Ebony was kind enough to offer me support when I needed it the most. During the Pandemic I was dealing with many unexpected medical issues. She always put me first as a person, not as a therapist. When I had to deal with an unexpected hospitalization my first month of working for CASA, she made sure to provide me support and understanding that “life” happens. She checked in with me and made sure I had time to recover without worrying about my caseload. Ebony offered me the most sincere patience as a boss, but also as someone who truly did care about my personal well-being.
Ebony has allowed me the opportunity to practice my passion of helping others in a place that fosters growth and multiculturalism. I feel so blessed to be part of a company that has the ability to help those most in need and be able to do it alongside a team of talented and dedicated professionals.