A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Rachel Lieske

A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Rachel Lieske

As a pediatric speech pathologist at Wee Care Therapy Ltd., Rachel Lieske’s life is wrapped up in selfless service for kids who deal with issues that hinder the full development of their communication skills. How she got to this point, too, is a heartwarming little tale. 

“I went to Valparaiso High School, and I was a peer tutor for the Life Skills Program. One of the semesters I did it, the kids had to go down for Speech one day. I accompanied a couple of the kids, and as we did our activities, one of them was finally able to make a sound that he had never been able to say before with the assistance of the speech pathologist there. The look of pride that this student got on his face, and the excitement that the speech pathologist had, was just the most amazing moment I had ever witnessed in my entire life at that point. And then I was hooked, thinking, ‘That's it. That's what I want to do. I want to give kids that,’” she said. 

Lieske’s favorite part about her job is being able to intimately work with both her colleagues and the array of families she assists. Such a wealth of knowledge from vast collaboration has influenced her career for the better, but it’s not the only reason she does what she does. 

“I think that everybody deserves to have a voice. Every family that I work with, every child that I work with, has their own unique challenges. In that way, I do my best to create a communication option that is unique to every kid. I've always told families I take a total communication approach. Whether it's sign language, whether it's verbal, whether it's using Alternative Augmentative Communication, we'll figure out whatever way works for a kid to get them to be able to communicate with everybody,” she said. “I just do my best, and I think I do a good job of trying to help kids find their voice in whatever way I can.”

Thankful to her parents for giving her every opportunity to follow her dreams, Lieske’s impact spreads beyond her role as a speech pathologist. In the community of Valparaiso, she’s quite active, serving all kinds of groups and helping out with local volunteer programs, which has even allowed her to build up her faith as well. 

“I currently am the Board Chair of the Little Lamb Preschool, which is located here in Valpo. Whoever the board chair is for that year, they’re then on the council of Christ Lutheran Church, which the preschool is a ministry of. Also, I used to be a Chapter Advisory board member for the Kappa Delta sorority at Valparaiso University,” Lieske said. 

When she gets time to herself, however, cooking’s usually at the top of Lieske’s to-do list. Below that, it’s safe to say that traveling ranks pretty highly, too. Outside of the kitchen, plenty of time with friends — and especially family — is always a priority of hers. 

“I always love getting to spend time with friends. Being an adult who was raised here in Valpo, many of my friends have kind of migrated back home. And so my husband, Ben, and I try to do our best to check in with various groups of friends when we have free time. What’s most important, though, has to be all the time we get to spend with our kids,” Lieske said. “There are some nights when we’ll snuggle up on the couch and read together, and it just means so much because I love every second of it.”

In 2006, after attending the annual Popcorn Festival that’s held to celebrate the life of Orville Redenbacher, Lieske won the title of Popcorn Queen, an honor she still relishes to this day. Back in high school, her choral program had the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York, Lieske and her mother making a trip out of it. 

Valparaiso itself has always held a special place in the heart of Lieske. It’s come with many benefits and has provided great times. 

“Valparaiso was an amazing place to grow up, and it's an amazing place to raise our family. Just the way that Valpo has grown in the last 15 years is really exciting. I'm proud of where I live, and I'm always excited to see what the next development here might be,” she said.