For first-year teacher Missy Cunningham, success with her pupils comes in sound bites.
"We were working on the 'K' sound," said Ms. Cunningham, a speech therapist at Jefferson Elementary School.
She said she's been working on the sound with one of her pupils for about three months.
"He's been struggling. The other day he came in and I said, 'Ok, what sound are you working on?'"
The pupil made the "K" sound.
As a new teacher, Ms. Cunningham said, she has spent many hours on administrative tasks, but there also have been rewards.
"I love being a teacher-therapist because it's a wonderful profession that helps students communicate better," she said.
Pupils' speech-improvement exercises are not meant to be limited to the classroom, Ms. Cunningham said. Parents are urged to help their children with the exercises at home, she said.
"I can tell the difference, too, when parents help me help their kid," the teacher said. "That's my biggest joy: knowing that I've helped somebody - and parents can tell the difference."
When she was thinking about pursuing a teaching career. Ms. Cunningham said, her mother, an elementary school teacher in Horry County, talked with her about the many challenges she would face in the profession.
After researching speech therapy, Ms. Cunningham decided to get a degree in education at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg.
Ms. Cunningham said she is starting to get a handle on the ever-present paperwork.
"It was an adjustment because it all comes at you at once," Ms. Cunningham said. "It's getting easier to make sure I get everything done in a timely fashion. That's the biggest part - to make sure it's all done by a certain date."
Reach Nathan Dickinson at (803) 648-1395, ext. 109, or firstname.lastname@example.org.