Bribery Crocker: Developing Unconventional PR Methods to Validate Our Services in Middle and High Schools

Close up view of cookies


Photo by yurilong

Never under estimate the power of a great cookie.

Thirty minutes of baking and bagging led to several months of attended IEP meetings, updates from the classrooms, and pullouts for testing. The moniker of “The Speech Lady,” which may have been developed to resemble a Saturday Night Live skit, was replaced by the honored title of “The Cookie Lady.” The tapping of heels in the empty halls had no longer become sighs of, “Oh great! Whose class will be disrupted now?” but one of musical tip tap merriment, “Will I be the one who receives the special delivery?”

I had become tired of the constant PR required for providing itinerant services in middle and high schools. It seemed that no matter how much honey I exuded through my smiles and pleasant tones, my well thought out suggestions would fall on hardened faces and deafened ears. I so loved the sessions with the students, assisting them not only with their speech and language development but also with the trials and triumphs of teenage angst. Kids were identifying their individual strategies, increasing self advocacy, and some were even passing their SOLs. Parental indifference was replaced with the excitement for dismissal from services that had lasted the majority of their child’s lifetime. The much needed teacher and administrator support, however, was not there.

I left the bait in the mail room, which was adjacent to my office. Leaving my door open in the early before school hours, I began to hear exclamations muffled by crumbs of “Who left these?” Gone in the 30 minutes it took to make them; the lasting impression was infinite! The next week would be the new block schedule, requiring new pullout and “push-in” times. The previous e-mail notifications were replaced with a handwritten note and a bag adorned with a ribbon in each teacher’s mailbox.

The cookie experiment yielded six dozen chocolate chips each trial, and a batch of teachers who were beginning to take notice of the necessity of speech therapy in the schools. Extra chairs were necessary for the IEP meetings, and e-mails with attachments on progress were rising in my inbox. My recipes were requested….on how to enhance the students’ communication skills in the classrooms.

Many speech language pathologists repel the thought of working in middle and high school education settings. Your own triumphant stories or commentary on working in the ovens will help foster the success of fellow therapists with the right ingredients to create a successful speech language program.

Susanne Gore, CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech pathologist at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond. She has enjoyed 16 years of laughing and learning during her experiences in private and public schools, health care facilities, and community colleges. Susanne has written articles and presented topics on creative therapy techniques to support individuals with maladaptive communication behaviors.

Comments

  1. Love it! I used to hand out scheduling sheets to teachers at the beginning of each year with a deadline that, if met, would yield the teacher a special treat- a scratch ticket! Shameless, but it worked.

  2. Genius!

  3. I loved this! Susanne you are great! Glad to see you doing well! ;)

  4. Wow, who knew? I guess I’ll have to try this!

    You have also written articles with more creative therapy techniques? I’d love to see what else has worked for you!

    Thanks for a great little article!

  5. After a soul crushing day at my jr.high today, this may be the key to “getting” some respect! I really needed this article today..really!

  6. Susanne Gore says:

    If you all would like the recipe, check out http://www.bettycrocker.com, the “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie”- my secret addition is milk chocolate chips. Just like speech pathology, baking is a science- be sure to follow the recipe verbatim- especially the stir part! Let them rest on the pan, they are soft baked. Truly bribery at its best! ( The dough also works in an Easy Bake oven if you would like to bake some with your students on reward days.)

  7. Vergine Barsoumian says:

    Hello Susanne,
    I am not surprised! I know that you never had any ‘problems’ to attract clients to your ‘therapy sessions’…..! They wouldn’t even know that they were learning when in fact they did….via skillfully designed unconventional plans of making it all ‘fun and games’. Respectfully, however, I would have to say that these were cognitively/behaviorally challenged persons who truly felt the joy of your company. As you delivered your creative art of ‘speech therapy’, they intrinsically seemed to know that you cared and that this was the best part of their day.
    May be we ‘normals’ and others less fortunate, have a common denominator of ‘sensing/smelling’ the good stuff when we taste it….and want more of it…. because it is good for us ….!
    Thanks for sharing your success/creativity with the ‘managers’ of the ‘consumers’ who already know the ‘sweet taste of your cookies’!
    I must say, I read your article with laughter and joy. You truly are special.
    Vergine Barsoumian

  8. I love it!

  9. I’ve done cookies every year for holidays, but hadn’t thought to do it continuously. Annual cookies have definitely helped some. I wonder what ongoing cookies would do…?

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