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Allison Slone, 29
Speech-Language Pathologist, TheraCare Outpatient Services
As a speech pathologist for a private outpatient clinic, Allison Slone spends her days helping young children born with developmental problems that affect their speech improve their quality of life by learning to communicate with the people they love. Sounds heavy, right? But really, she’s just playing.
“It’s the best job ever!,” Allison says. “I get paid to play with little kids all day.” She started her career in the public school system and also worked for the First Steps program for children ages birth to 3 years old.
Last year she joined TheraCare, opened by friend Melanie Stinnett. Allison screens children at area preschools and helps those with problems get help early. She’s also working on summer enrichment programs to help preschoolers prepare for Kindergarten. Additionally, she is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
Allison spends most of her free time with her husband, Danny, and daughters Elsie, 2, and Georgia, 1, playing and trying new whole-foods recipes.
A Nixa resident, she also volunteers for The Bridge church, where she helps organize Girl Talk, a series of lock-ins for seventh through 12th–grade girls that promotes bonding and positive self-image. “We want to provide them with mentorship from women who have been through [middle school and high school], who made it out the other side,” Allison says.
Job title and where you work: Speech-Language Pathologist, TheraCare Outpatient Services
Education: Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Missouri State University (May 2008), Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Missouri State University (May 2010)
City or town where you live: Nixa
1. How did you end up at your current job/profession?
I’ve always wanted to be a mom, but my original plan was to be a vocal performance major and give private voice lessons out of my home. I wound up with vocal nodules my senior year of high school, which shut that career path down. I knew I’d enjoy working in any field where I was helping people, but blood and guts made me queasy, so I decided against a medical path. Also, turns out math and science are kind of “hard.” I basically fell into speech-language pathology at random, and it turned out to be the happiest accident ever! I worked full time as a speech-language pathologist for Springfield Public Schools (and loved every minute of it!) until the birth of my first daughter. One of my very favorite things about speech-language pathology is there are so many flexible settings you can work in, and I have been so thankful to be able to work a job I love part-time so I can do my other dream job, which is staying home with my girls. I started working for TheraCare Outpatient Services this year, which is an amazing new outpatient clinic in Springfield that offers speech, language, and occupational therapy services. I am so thrilled to be a part of a company who provides such needed services in our community!
2. Where do you find passion to do what you do?
The ability to communicate is one of the most important and meaningful skills we have in life. I find tremendous joy as a speech-language pathologist in being able to help children learn to convey their thoughts and ideas more effectively to the people they love. I am so passionate about early intervention services because those first few years of a child’s life are so crucial to setting them up with the developmental building blocks they need to grow and learn!
3. Are you single/married, and do you have any kids?
I’ve been married for five years to the sweetest, best, most smokin’ hot guy in the world, Danny. He calls me “passionate.” He really means crazy, but he chooses the word “passionate” instead. See? Told you he’s the sweetest. He’s a high school history teacher who spends his free time climbing mountains and having tea parties with his best girls. We have two beautiful daughters, Elsie (almost 3) and Georgia (1). Elsie has some pretty sweet dance moves, and any time I try to call her something ridiculous like “sweetheart” or “baby girl,” she reminds me, “Mama, I’m a DOCTOR.” Georgia is busy training to be the master luchador of the universe, and is currently working on perfecting the “pull sister’s hair with one hand as I simultaneously scrape her eye with the other” maneuver.
4. What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
I love searching for new “whole food” recipes and cooking them for my family. I’m also one of those weirdos who gets way too excited about organizing things and making a to-do list. Having two kids under the age of 3 tends to keep you pretty busy, but I also enjoy writing, reading, and nice long heart to hearts with my gal pals.
5. Are you involved in any charitable organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role? Why is it important to you?)
We love our church, the Bridge in Nixa. I’ve had the opportunity to work with the girls in the youth group there, and have had so much fun the past few years heading up an annual community event for 7th through 12th grade girls called “Girl Talk.” Girl Talk is an all-night lock-in where we have various speakers, worship music, fellowship, food and fun activities. Our main goal for the girls at the event is to know that while they live in a world full of uncertainty about who accepts them and thinks they are good enough, that there is a God who loves them with a fierce, unconditional love. These girls are so close to my heart because I remember being a teen girl who struggled with feeling worthy and loved. How cool is it to be able to work with these awesome teens as an adult who has gained perspective, relating to them and also cheering them on as they navigate their pivotal teen years?
6. Are you a member of any professional organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role?)
I’m a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
7. How would you define the secret to success?
I think goal setting and vision casting are so important. Then once you know what you’re working towards and what it looks like, make a plan with manageable steps. I love making visual charts I hang in my office to remind me, “Hey Allison. This is the goal you’ve set for yourself. These are the steps you need to take to get there.” And if things aren’t working or progress isn’t being made, I revise the plan until I do succeed.
8. What's your favorite thing about your career?
I actually get paid to hang out and play with kids all day. At the same time, I am helping them be able to more effectively communicate with the people they love. It doesn’t get much better than that, y’all.
9. What's your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
Isn’t Springfield the best? I love that it’s a big city that doesn’t feel like a big city. There are a million things to do here, but I am not going to have an anxiety attack on my way to do them because the traffic is manageable and people are going to wave and smile instead of hurt me. Every morning I wake up to the sound of a donkey braying in the field behind my yard, but I have a grocery store within five minutes of my house. I love it!
10. If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Step away from the tweezers. No, seriously.
11. What was your “dream job” at age 5?
I was positive I was going to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I even practiced bursting out of the water onto the side of the pool singing “Part of Your World.” Maybe someday…
12. List three traits that define a successful career:
Something you can be passionate about, where you feel like you’re making a difference in the world, and that you can balance with your home life (if you want to).
13. Why are you a 20 under 30?
I promise you there are one zillion (I wasn’t a math major) people in Springfield right now who are more deserving. I see you people out there, doing your thing, making a difference in the Springfield community. You are changing lives! Stay-at-home mamas, you are doing HARD WORK raising tiny humans! Maybe I’m a 20 under 30 so I can say “Hey you, the one who doesn’t think they’re anybody? I see you! You’re a big deal! Even if you’re over 30!”
14. What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
I’m so excited to help organize and facilitate our summer enrichment programs for TheraCare. There’s going to be a Mommy and Me class to give mamas some fun new ideas for enhancing their baby’s development through play, a preschool and kindergarten readiness camp to help ease their little one’s transition into the school setting, a handwriting camp, and more! A full list of our summer enrichment program descriptions is available at theracareozarks.com/summerprograms. They’re going to be a blast!
15. What completed project are you most proud of?
I think little moments with the families I work with stick out in my mind more than big projects. The tears in a mama’s eyes the first time she hears her son say, “I love you.” That dance party with a child after she FINALLY is able to say that tricky “r” sound for the first time. And those two huge chunks of my heart walking around outside of my body and calling me “mama.” Those are the things that make my heart swell.
Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:
A relationship with Jesus makes life worth living.
A day at work wouldn't be complete without making weird faces in mirrors.
Ten years from now, I hope I'm Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would buy El Puente on Republic Road.
The best part about being a 20 under 30 is being immortalized as under 30.