Dorothy P. “Darcy” Dougherty, of Linwood, grew up with a younger brother who had trouble pronouncing words correctly.

“He followed me everywhere,” she said. “I would talk for him.”

So it was natural that she would gravitate toward speech therapy, first at West Chester University, then in graduate school at The College of New Jersey.

Dougherty has “loved every second” of her 35-year career as a speech and language pathologist, she said. She retired this year from the Ocean City School District, but still sees private clients in her home office for speech sound disorders such as stuttering and language disorders such as delayed speech in children or post-stroke problems in adults.

Now she has branched out into reducing accents — foreign or regional — that may get in the way of professional or personal success.

“You can be fired from a job if others can’t understand you,” Dougherty said. “It’s not a disability; it’s a difference.” Practitioners of some professions, such as air-traffic controllers, must speak American Standard English — the pronunciation considered clearest, and which she teaches.

She can even help someone acquire an accent. She recently trained with an expert in New York City, who works with theater, film and commercial actors.

Dougherty is the author of four books, including “How to Talk to Your Baby,” published by Perigee/Putnam. She wrote it after realizing busy parents weren’t talking to their babies enough to maximize language development, she said. Her husband, Kevin, is a former school psychologist who has a private practice. Their two adult sons, Dominick and Tom, are both teachers. For more information, call Dougherty at 609-926-1435.

Teen writers win contest

Three local students won honors in Gilda’s Club South Jersey’s fifth “It’s Always Something” Teen Writing Contest, chosen from 83 entries from 24 schools, teen program manager Beth Wray said.

JoHannah Newman, of Ocean City and Ocean City High School, won first place in the essay division; Isabel Van den Heuvel, of Linwood and Mainland Regional High School, was second for essay; and Rahil Patel, of Absecon and Absegami High School, won second for poetry.

Scholarship recipients

Recent graduates from Ocean City High School, Carolyn Hoke, Hannah Lavin, Amanda Jamison and Kelly Williamson; Wildwood High School graduate Brieann Gorski; and Wildwood Catholic High School graduate Michael Capozzi, recently shared $13,000 in 2012 academic scholarships from the Cape Regional Medical Center Auxiliary. All are pursuing studies in health care, an auxiliary spokesperson said.