This vocal journey can help you become a happier, healthier and more effective teacher.
In a profession where communication between teacher and learner is key, a teacher's voice problems can grind the learning process to a screeching halt. Damaged or fatigued voices are often low-pitched, hoarse, rough and difficult to understand.
Unfortunately, voice problems among schoolteachers are common. Teachers are a whopping 32 times more likely to report voice difficulties than people in other jobs, according to a recent study. Yet experts estimate that 75 percent of these problems can be prevented or self-managed if teachers have access to cutting-edge research and medical information. And, that's exactly why the Voice Academy website was built. Think of this website as a bridge between the voice pros and you. Your vocal health care journey takes you through an imaginary school called the Voice Academy. Explore its rooms to learn how to keep your teaching voice in tip-top shape.
The Voice Academy was originally released in 2004. Its creators gratefully acknowledge financial support (grant 5R25DC4605) from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The NIH is concerned about your vocal health, too.
Julie Ostrem, MBA, Project Director, is living proof that life is, indeed, an interesting journey. She returned to her husband's home state of Iowa just about the same time the National Center for Voice and Speech was taking shape. She's been in Iowa's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders since 1991. Prior to that, she was a mid-career program coordinator at the University of Missouri's prestigious School of Journalism. Directing the Voice Academy project has been a unique match for her educational background (a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in business administration) and professional interests: health communications, educational administration, program development and management, as well as struggles with voice issues herself.
Emily Oinen, Illustrator, lives in San Francisco. She has a quirky sense of humor and loves it when she can bring that to bear on a project. She was a pitbull when solving problems and a pussycat when it came to working out revisions. Another cool fact: Emily's mom is a teacher, and this brought an unexpected, but very welcomed, perspective to her artwork. Emily's eye for design elevated the level of sophistication of the project. Her visual contributions make cruising through the website a pleasure.
Thea Carruth, MPH, Writer/contributor, is a health educator currently affiliated with the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Her professional interests emphasize health education product design and delivery. She is intrigued by the connections between healing and the power of the arts. Her educational background includes a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in public health from Emory University School of Medicine. Although she would be too humble to admit it, she is a pro at transforming a bunch of amorphous ideas into a cohesive educational product. During the development of Voice Academy, she asked just the right questions at just the right times to keep project momentum going forward.
Kate Emerich, MS, SLP-CCC, Writer/contributor, is a clinical vocologist in Denver, Colorado. She has worked extensively with healthy and damaged voices, specializing in the care of the injured speaking and singing voice. She earned a bachelor's degree in vocal performance and a master's degree in communicative disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is an internationally recognized clinician in the area of voice disorders. And...she continues to keep her own voice in tiptop shape by singing professionally.
Steven Gray, MD, Writer/contributor: Regrettably, Steve did not live to see the finished Voice Academy website. He died peacefully in September, 2002, after a long illness. We did not assign another research otolaryngologist as a consultant to the project because - quite simply - there is no replacement for Steve Gray. He had great knowledge and skills as a physician, surgeon, researcher, and teacher. Yet he was always able to communicate his knowledge about voice in ways that would be practical and understandable to those who need this information in their everyday lives. We believe that he would be pleased that the Voice Academy website is complete and that teachers can benefit greatly from his contributions. We certainly learned much from him.
Judy Leigh-Johnson, PG DP, Writer/contributor, is a former lecturer in voice and speech, and vocal dialect coach for productions in the Theatre Arts Department at The University of Iowa. She has taught in Britain, Canada and the United States, directed student productions, and worked as a dialect coach for theatre companies in North America. She originally trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and pursued an acting career on both sides of the Atlantic, encompassing a wide variety of major roles in theatre, film, TV, radio drama, voice-overs and commercials. She continues to be intrigued by the body-voice connection, and potential contributions of theatre voice training to professional voice users, such as teachers.
Libby Romero, BJ, MEd, Writer/contributor, has professional experience in magazine writing and public relations and, most recently, as a teacher of English as a second language in the Arlington, Virginia, public school system. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in ESL from Marymount University. She spent many hours on the project, researching and writing information for the various classrooms. During the Voice Academy construction, she good-naturedly and consistently advocated the needs of the classroom teacher by encouraging concise, clear and practical communication of vocal health information.
Ingo Titze, PhD, Writer/contributor, is known world wide for his expertise in describing scientific principles of voice production. He is a Distinguished Professor of Voice and Speech at The University of Iowa, and Director of the National Center for Voice and Speech, at the University of Utah. Formally educated as a physicist and engineer (with bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Utah and a doctoral degree from Brigham Young University), he has applied this knowledge to a lifelong love of vocal music. In addition to his scientific endeavors, he continues to sing, describing himself as an "enthusiastic tenor."
And, last but not least, a big shout-out to the many teachers who served in focus groups during the project development. Their suggestions were invaluable.