2022 might almost be over, but there are still new additions to Wolf to meet! Learn more about Melissa Phillips, a Teacher Assistant at Wolf, in this month’s We Are Wolf interview!
1. Can you briefly tell us about your background?
Over a 33-year span, I worked at a local psychiatric hospital for children in the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. I started fresh out of college with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and no idea what to do with that degree. My first role was as a Clinical Child Care worker. Working with children who had significant behavioral and communication challenges, I learned about the role that communication breakdown played in challenging behaviors. My next role was as a Psychology Assistant with duties as varied as preparing behavior data for team meetings, writing behavior programs, and administering some cognitive assessments under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. I decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders and became a Speech Language Pathologist. I continued working with the same organization as an SLP in hospital, school-based, and outpatient settings. Along the way, I had the opportunity to work with some amazing Occupational Therapists and continued to grow in my understanding of how sensory processing also has a significant impact on communication, behavior, and ultimately learning. After the challenges of the pandemic, I was so happy to find a new home at the Wolf School in my new role as Teacher Assistant.
2. What motivated you to want to work in a school setting?
I have always enjoyed working with children and I had heard so many wonderful things about the Wolf School during my tenure at my other job. I really have always enjoyed learning and I look forward to attempting to instill a love of learning into the students at Wolf School.
3. What is the most rewarding part of working with Complex Learners?
There are so many things that I find rewarding about working with Complex Learners that it is hard to pick just one. But if I have to pick just one, I would say that it is the moment when I make a connection with a student that allows them to access the material – material with which they had previously struggled. I love to see their faces light up with understanding and pride that they have achieved something that they may not have previously believed that they could.
4. What is your favorite part about working at Wolf so far?
My favorite part of working at Wolf so far is that I have felt welcomed, supported, and completely at home from the first moment that I walked in the door for my interview. After working for so long in one place, I was nervous about starting anew but every single co-worker and Wolf family has made me feel like this is the place I am supposed to be.
5. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
To understand my favorite holiday tradition, you need to know that I am the seventh of ten children. Every Christmas Eve, all of my siblings, their spouses, children, and grandchildren gather for a giant potluck party (usually about 60 people squeezed into a fairly small house). It is one of the few times per year that we all get together and everyone makes an effort to attend. During the party, we have a Yankee Swap which is chaotic but fun. Gathering together with my family and attending church with my husband and three daughters are the most important holiday traditions for me.
Welcome to Wolf, Melissa! We are so thrilled to have you here! To learn more about other Wolf Staff, read some of our past We Are Wolf interviews!