Education, Leadership and the CCCs

From student to speech-language pathologist to administrator, Kyle Epps has faced every new role and challenge with the support and resources of his ASHA certification

Kyle Epps discovered speech-language pathology as a student first. In high school, his English teacher referred him to an SLP for a frontal lisp he didn’t even know he had. After a few months of intervention, he remediated his lisp and unbeknownst to him, opened the door to his future career.

Kyle always knew he wanted to pursue a career involving education and leadership.  Then in college he fell in love with studying child psychology and its potential to make an impact. Merging these two career interests with his own prior positive speech therapy experience, Kyle decided to pursue a career in speech-language pathology.

Going through treatment for his own lisp taught Kyle a valuable and lasting lesson: how to face a challenge and when to pivot. Beginning with his clinical fellowship year, Kyle was placed at a school with an entire caseload of Deaf and hard of hearing students – a population he had never worked with before. Nonetheless, he took this challenge in stride, learning American Sign Language (ASL) and using a mix of hand cues and ASL to support students.

“The experience was such an opportunity to learn and grow,” said Kyle. A year later, Kyle earned his CCCs. “It was a huge sense of accomplishment,” he remembers. “It was the culmination of all the hard work I put into graduate school and my first year as a clinician.”

Kyle spent the next six years at a school for Deaf and hard of hearing students in Los Angeles through the LA Unified School District (LAUSD).

“I had a very unique role as a signing speech-language pathologist, focusing mostly on speech production versus language,” said Kyle.

His experiences opened the door for Kyle to work as an administrator at LAUSD. Kyle uses his leadership skills and previous experience to oversee and support administrators managing nearly 700 speech-language pathologists and speech-language pathology assistants.

In his current role, Kyle faced another challenge that changed everything: a global pandemic. He led his team of administrators and speech-language pathologists through the difficulties of providing remote therapy sessions, making sure students and families received adequate care and no students slipped through the cracks, as LAUSD schools remained remote through April 2021. Parents became more involved with lessons, and Kyle observed students and families building stronger connections and trust with their speech-language pathologists.

“Leading the team, it was extremely heartwarming for me to continue to connect, check in and observe therapy sessions,” said Kyle. “Seeing all the good that was occurring during that extremely chaotic and uncertain time gave me a huge sense of pride.”

Looking back on his career, Kyle feels grateful for the opportunities and resources ASHA provided throughout every step of his professional journey. He participated in the ASHA Leadership Development Program (LDP) early on in his career, which helped guide him as a young professional.

“Learning from veteran speech-language pathologists and connecting with other speech-language pathologists that were new to the field opened doors for me from a networking perspective and gave me many of tools that I’ve carried forward in my career,” said Kyle. “It’s great that ASHA is doing so much to help support people early on and into their careers.”

Kyle ties his career path and successes as a professional tightly to having his CCCs. “My certification gives me a sense of professional responsibility and pride,” said Kyle. “Being ASHA-certified as well as a licensed speech pathologist is a great added value – even as an administrator – and something that I’m never going to drop.”