EDCOE Team Member Spotlight - Kerri Delonchamp, Speech & Language Pathologist, Special Services
11:26 AM - May 25, 2021
Briefly describe your background (where you grew up, family, why you came to work for EDCOE).
I was born in Carmel, California, which not many can claim. But, I am able to say that, because when my dad drove my mom past a Quonset Hut that served as Fort Ord’s Hospital she announced, “just keep on driving, there is no way I am having my baby there.” They pinched their pennies and saved their change, and I was born in a small hospital in Carmel. I grew up in “the Bay,” specifically Concord, California. For college, I attended California State University Chico and University of Massachusetts. Upon completion of my Masters’ degree, EDCOE called me. It wasn’t because they had heard how special I am, but because they were calling all newly graduated speech pathologists in hopes of finding one willing to come and work their Extended School Year. Being a broke newlywed, I was quick to reply, “of course I will come… where is El Dorado County?” There was no googling for directions in those days. On our drive to El Dorado County, my husband and I made a pact… if there are lots of trees in El Dorado County we will stay and make our careers there. And so here we are. My husband is a science teacher for Black Oak Mine Unified School District, and we raised our three beautiful daughters in Garden Valley. Our family has since grown, and we have added one son-in-love, and two grandbabies!
What is your department, title, and how long have you worked for EDCOE?
I work in the Special Services Department. I am a Speech Pathologist and my current assignment is Schnell Elementary and Markham Middle School. Over the years I have worked in many different schools, districts, and programs in our county. This is my 36th year as an employee of EDCOE. So I am either a dinosaur, or started as a child, you decide.
Describe how your role helps support programs/schools/students directly or indirectly.
In my current assignment I provide speech therapy to 60 students (give or take a few), ranging in age from preschool to eighth grade. As part of serving the child, I support the family and consult with the teacher. Presently, I collaborate/consult with approximately 40 general education teachers, and have the privilege to serve alongside Placerville Union School District’s amazing special education team. Together, we touch lives and make a difference in a child’s academic career, by helping them access core curriculum.
What are you and your team doing to support education during COVID-19?
The “Speechie Team” has been absolutely incredible during COVID-19. We have been rock stars in learning new and different ways to perform our job, all while continuing to deliver a level of service that meets and exceeds parameters of a quality program. Our fearless leader, Becca, stated that we are building an airplane while flying it. We quickly learned how to run IEPs via Zoom, provide speech therapy and assessments remotely, and access and/or create materials that work on our new tele-therapy platform. When asked to change and provide in-person services that adhere to COVID regulations, we quickly learned to do so with masks, plexi-glass, sanitation between all sessions, and social distancing. Imagine working with a child’s mouth, lips, jaw, and tongue under these circumstances. Yet, we have done so with flair and success. With grit, determination, and perseverance, we have responded to the county office’s direction; changing schedules, changing delivery models, and changing our groups, all while meeting IEP goals. This year the necessity for frequent change, has resulted in flexibility being the speech therapists’ mantra.
What do you most appreciate about your department/team?
The “speechies” are an incredibly talented team. I find that I walk among giants in the field of Speech Pathology. Their dedication to serving children with a wide range of speech and language impairments is inspiring. Just being a part of this team is humbling. The expertise and knowledge available amongst our team surpasses the best articles and available trainings. I appreciate how the team is always willing to share knowledge and help generate solutions to solve problems. We have a group email for all to ask questions, post opinions, share research, and discuss research based conclusions and techniques for therapy. I am proud that my team personally touches every single school and county special education classroom on the western slope. When I began this job there were a total of 8 speech therapists, and now there are 30. Yet, even as we have grown, the effectiveness of our team has not changed.
What is your proudest moment at EDCOE? Why?
I don’t have one moment with EDCOE that represents my proudest. My multitude of experiences have shaped who I am as a speech therapist and individual. From the beginning, saying ‘yes’ to EDCOE has set me up in a career that has been fulfilling and one that I am proud of. I have served children ranging from 3 years to 21 years. I have provided speech therapy to districts, as well as a variety of our county programs. I have learned from the finest county special education teachers and speech therapists. I have served as the lead speech therapist, presented at trainings, and worked with our local and regional Lions Clubs, securing monetary support for 3 computers with a program that visualized speech for the deaf. I am far richer from all that I have achieved and learned from those I have worked with in EDCOE’s special services department.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I love playing with my grandkids, camping with family and friends, and being a sidekick to my husband’s many ideas. I am blessed to be a wife, mother, and grandma. Together, as a family, we camped at the beach for Thanksgiving cooking our feast on a camp stove, enjoyed lazy days at the ocean, kept honey bees, dove for abalone, dug for clams, crabbed for Dungeness crab off kayaks, hunted for wild mushrooms, milked goats and made cheese, backpacked with goats, and explored many interesting areas while paddling our kayaks. In addition, when time permits, I continue to enjoy dabbling in a variety of crafts and attempting to learn new instruments, therefore becoming a quasi-Jack of all trades, master of none.
What is something many people may not know about you?
When first hired that summer long ago, I arrived in Placerville with a small U-Haul trailer containing all that I owned, and lived in EDCOE’s Director of Special Services basement for several months. At that time many speech therapists were assigned a Winnebago RV to drive to their schools, so that they would have a speech office to work from. I was scared to death that they were going to ask me to drive one that summer. But, instead, on my first day serving Extended School Year, I was given the keys and told to go dig through three County Office RVs to find materials and tests I needed, and then drive my car to report to a variety of classrooms around the county. I was given written directions to each site, but am embarrassed to admit to the round about ways I ended up getting from site to site that summer. At the end of the summer I landed a permanent position as a Speech Pathologist for EDCOE. Imagine my excitement when they decided not to assign me a Winnebago. Perhaps my reputation of getting lost and wandering the back roads of the county preceded me.
If you could meet anyone in the world, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
I would like to meet Corrie ten Boom. Her humility and willingness to serve others no matter the personal cost, is inspiring. Adversity is a part of life, handling it with grace and fortitude is a chosen path.
From supervisor, Becca Kaldunski, Director, Special Services:
Kerri is a collaborative team member who works tirelessly to serve her students, families, and campus teams. This year, in particular she has demonstrated creativity, adaptability, and “true grit” in regards to putting students’ needs first. Kerri has impeccable organizational skills and is both thoughtful and thorough in her follow-through. Kerri exemplifies EDCOE’s culture of service and collaboration each and every day.