Submitted by Sarah Woog, Executive Director at Washington County Consortium.
Washington County Consortium (WCC) Educator Profile: Meet Dale Bailey, Speech-Language Pathologist at AOS 90
I first heard about Dale Bailey’s work from Mandy Belanger, Principal at Woodland Elementary School. Mandy praised his passion for supporting educators and students and his expertise in the areas of speech and language. She thought he’d be a great presenter for Harvest of Ideas, too.
I reached out to Dale to ask him to consider presenting at Harvest of Ideas and, in his response to the request for proposals (RFP), he described a professional background that speaks to Dale’s depth of experience and tremendous expertise. I was excited to be able to offer Dale’s session about dyslexia screening in Maine to Washington County educators:
Over a more than 20 year time span, Dale has worked as a speech-language pathologist, LD evaluator (079), district data consultant and early literacy coordinator. He has a special interest in the connection between oral and written language assessment and development. Dale has extensive experience designing and delivering PD in the areas of assistive technology, assessment, language and early literacy. Dale has held positions as adjunct faculty (UMFK & UWSP) and as the Statewide Early Literacy Coordinator for the state of Wisconsin. He currently provides services to students in AOS90 while continuing to provide professional development & support to educators in both Maine and Wisconsin.
The feedback from Dale’s session at Harvest of Ideas confirmed that he has a lot to offer. Many shared it was the best part of their day, and that it gave them ideas and practices to try immediately in their classroom. He was also lauded as an incredibly informed and skilled presenter.
I reached out to Dale to interview him for a profile because I wanted to hear more about his journey, his core beliefs around language and learning, and his hopes for schools and students in Washington County. He welcomed me in his office at Woodland Elementary School so we could sit down for a conversation. I am grateful for his time, candor and insights, and am excited to share them here.
Dale had a stutter growing up, and described himself as an “under the radar kid.” His academic success earned him admission to Colby College, where he studied economics. While at Colby, and during summer internships, he realized he’d “have to learn to be a successful communicator in order to succeed in the world.” During the summer after his junior year, he participated in a residential speech therapy program for adults, which helped him achieve his goals around speech fluency, and sparked a deeper interest in the area of speech and language.
Dale did enter the business field, but his interest and personal connection to speech and language nagged at him. After oscillating for some time between working in business and working on his Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders, Dale obtained a Master’s from the University of Maine at Orono in 1997, and went right to work in the field in 1998. After building his career and expertise in Maine and then Wisconsin, Dale decided to come back to Maine in 2018 and found a fit working with all schools and grade levels in AOS 90.
At AOS 90, Dale sees unique assets and challenges. He appreciates how, in a small district, he is able to work with both students and educators and sees professional development as an integral part of his work. His understandings are constantly informed by both students and educators, and he is able to support educators’ growth while informed directly by students’ experiences.
As for challenges, Dale shared that “sustained, purposeful, targeted effort is required to move the needle,” and lamented the challenges that limited resources in most districts pose to engaging in sustained efforts. He elaborated: “Teachers work their tails off, they work so hard and oftentimes, if not all the time, do good work with limited information…and/or with limited materials. It’s quite remarkable to see really great results from teachers who have these limits. If we give teachers great materials and great information about what they are trying to teach or how they are trying to teach it, gosh, we could do a lot.”
There are many people with whom Dale has worked who give him great hope when imagining the possible. He spoke of Mandy Belanger, Principal at Woodland Elementary School. “Mandy- she’s hungry; she wants to figure it out. She wants to understand reading as a door to learning and development; she wants to figure out how to move the needle on reading development, to open up doors for kids in learning, thinking, and developing as individuals.”
Dale’s work and story inspire my imagination, too. Consider Dale’s early challenges with speech and recall the Harvest of Ideas feedback around Dale’s gift for speech. Dale wasn’t born with his speech skills; he was motivated to gain these skills and was able to access the resources to achieve them. He then worked throughout his career to understand speech and language and use his evolving understandings to impact student learning. Dale’s gift that I’d like to celebrate is the gift he gives us through his work, to his colleagues, and his students, and all those impacted by his work throughout his career. Thank you, Dale, and thank you, too, to the passionate educators he celebrates as well.
Please, take a moment to reflect on the gifts educators all over Washington County give each other, their communities and their students. And take another moment to celebrate the gifts you give and receive, as well.