Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Latham Centers’ Launches its New Website!

All of our future blog postings can be found HERE!

Over the past few months Latham Centers’ staff have been working hard to produce a new, vibrant, and mobile-friendly website. This new website has an interactive design and seamless flow of information! It has been formatted for the everyday web user curious to learn information about our programs and our staff.

New aspects to look for!
  • Latham Profiles
  • Circle of Courage™ Culture
  • New Campus and Adult Residential Maps
  • Updated and Revamped Admissions Information 
  • Latham Works Information

Take a look at our new and improved website, HERE!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jessica Gremila Accepts Teaching Position at Latham

I am pleased to report that Jessica Gremila has accepted a position at Latham Centers as the teacher in our youngest classroom. Jess has been a substitute here for over a year, spending her time floating amongst classrooms and residences. Jess was born and raised on Cape Cod and attended school at Bridgewater State University. Jess is currently pursuing higher education in Special Education and is looking forward to starting her teacher career here at Latham Centers.

When asked what Jess enjoys most about Latham she stated that, “watching the kids grow educationally and seeing how much they overcome is extremely rewarding." Jess also stated that she “chose to begin my teaching career here because it was a great setting to challenge myself and work with the kids I have fostered relationships with over the past year.”

Jess is extremely enthusiastic about her social skills and English Language Arts curriculum. Upon walking into her classroom this morning, the students were engaged in researching information about their new book series. As a Cape Cod native, Jess cites the summer as being the best part about living here, and she is excited to be working with the students during Latham’s Summertide Program this year. Jess will begin leading this Spring’s Sensory Art Club and she hopes to “engage the students in multi-sensory art projects that explore all the senses."

Congratulations Jess! We are looking forward to watching you flourish and grow in your new classroom!

Kara McDowell
Assistant Principal

Monday, March 16, 2015

What My School Means to Me

What My School Means to Me
By: Brian

My school means that I stay safe and secure around Latham. The cool thing about Latham is the exercise outing. The exercise outing is peaceful and calm. I think I will do great with all of my goals. Thank you Latham.

Friday, March 13, 2015

TIP of the WEEK: Creating a Home Sensory Space

Undoubtedly your child has a sensory room somewhere in their school. Sensory rooms are wonderful additions that schools have incorporated and they are also really, really expensive. But they don't have to be. You can create a sensory space in your home with the same positive effects as the pricey ones. Here's how:

1. Find a spot. This can be a corner free of wires and outlets, an unused closet with the door removed, or even a space in their bedroom.

2. Use soft lighting. If you only have the option of strong or fluorescent lighting, purchase light covers that will soften the glare.

3. Paint the walls. Create a soothing mood by painting the walls soft colors like light yellow or green.

4. Add visual tools.
Sure you can spend hundreds or thousands on light boards and wave machines or you can get the exact same calming effect by using a string of pink or purple Christmas lights.

5. Create calm. Put pictures on the wall of places they love to visit; places that bring back good memories.

6. Brain breaks.
Have something for them to do that encourages positive stimulation. You can find endless ideas for brain breaks online.

7. Tactile tools.
Have lots of options for tactile stimulation.  Stress balls, Thera putty and coloring books are all very soothing independent activities.

You know when your child needs a break, an escape, or needs to relax. Having a space with soft lighting, music and activities can not only give your child a place to regroup but can also give you a way to get a few minutes alone while at the same time teaching your child the invaluable skill of self soothing.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"And They Said My Child Would Never..." Re-posted by Popular Demand!

Patrice Carroll, Latham Centers’ PWS Specialist, created “And they said my child would never…” after hearing about the hardships faced by most parents blessed with a child diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome. This touching short film highlights these testimonials and explains how despite being told, “Your child will never…,” these children and parents have fought the odds and are hopeful about the future. Together, parents and Latham Centers’ staff are changing lives and creating experiences that doctors never thought possible.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Gina Desimone
Adult Residential Counselor

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy all of the experience and skills that working for this company has given me. I have been able to apply my trainings to real life situations and continue to build on my expertise in this field. Latham has allowed me to be very flexible with my work schedule, and you never live the same day twice in this work environment, every day is different.

Describe a few of your responsibilities and how you spend much of your time.

In my current position at Latham, I am responsible for med administration, meal prep and ensuring the general safety of the individuals that I help support. I encourage them to be the best they can be and role model appropriate behavior. I spend most of my time with the individuals I help support just doing regular daily activities; watching movies, going out into the community, playing board games and decorating for holidays and celebrations.

What skills are most important for professionals who work with individuals with PWS or other complex special needs?

Patience and humor are two very important things that can really be helpful in this line of work. Being confident in your decision making and following Latham’s general rules and guidelines can also help you excel in your position. Communication is always a great trait in the workplace. Working with the individuals that Latham supports also requires a lot of improvising and creative thinking, you have a lot of freedom to try new ideas and have a lot of fun with the people you work with.

What are the most important lessons you attempt to teach new staff?

There is a lot to learn and pay attention to at Latham. It is normal for it to take awhile before new staff are settled in. The best thing you can do is continue to ask questions. Everyone here is very helpful and so many people working for this company can be great mentors to help you along the way.

What do you love about working with individuals with PWS or other complex special needs?

I love experiencing the big things that happen in their lives with them; from graduations to Birthdays and holidays, to new jobs and responsibilities. It’s really special to see the joy and pride in their eyes when something important and exciting happens to them, especially when you see how hard they’ve worked for it and encouraged them along the way.

Has this job taught you anything about yourself?

This job has taught me that I can handle confrontation well, and I can be very level headed when faced with some difficult decision making in tough environments.

How do you spend your time when you’re not working at Latham?

When I am not working at Latham, I spend my time at home raising my two kids and enjoying my time with our family.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating a career at Latham Centers?

Working for Latham is an experience that is well worth trying. It will teach you skills and give you some experiences that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. 

Interested in a career at Latham Centers? Click HERE to view our latest job postings.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Latham Celebrates Two New Graduates

Over the past two weeks two Latham Centers student residents have graduated decorated in Latham Centers’ traditional blue gown. Even more exciting is that both of these scholars are going to the Adult Residential Program at Latham Centers.

Both graduations were full of smiling staff, students, and family members. Tears fell from beaming faces as the students, teachers, and clinicians told stories of successes and hardships, but ultimately the triumphs felt at Latham Centers.

The photos tell a story of hand-made quilted blankets graciously donated by the Harwich Quilt Bank and received by graduates, diplomas received, cards of praise and hopes for success from peers, and hugs of support and pride from staff and family members. The Harwich Quilt Bank volunteer group has donated these beautiful quilts for years and the student quilt presentation is one of many highlights of graduation for our students.

As we say a bitter-sweet goodbye to these two beautiful faces and personalities from the Latham Campus, we know that both of these young adults will find continued future success in the Adult Program. We congratulate them on their growth over the past years and applaud their future endeavors.

In Ayanna’s speech she explained, “I made it through. I did it. Just be yourself and never give up [in order] to accomplish your goals for your next experience [in] life.” These words are not just applicable to our graduates, but to all of us.

Thank you Ayanna and Casey for all that you have taught to your peers, your teachers and clinicians, and to your extended family at Latham Centers. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Circle of Courage at Latham Centers: Building Community

I believe that how a “place feels” is an important question. I once had what could be described as a dream job. I was hired to work individually with kids who were struggling academically. The job paid exceptionally well and came with paid meals and more than the entire summer off. I lived in an apartment that was directly on the shore of a peaceful lake and my employer paid the rent. It had many benefits, but it also didn’t “feel right” and I never was able to get comfortable. I left that job after nine months and later took a job for less pay, none of the rent, and more demanding work. That job was at Latham Centers and I took it only because of the feeling I got when I came on campus.

This idea of building community is not a hokey, "Kumbaya" hope. Our brains and nervous systems are honed to “feel” our way into communities that support us. All of us can reflect on times when we have walked into a room or situation that had our skin crawling. That idea of being able to “slice the tension” with a knife is based in our biology. When each of us focuses on “community” and taking care of each other, all of us benefit. Although we have our days here, all in all, Latham is a community that feels right. We can improve on that by committing to consciously invest in those around us.

Over the next month, strive to: Be Kind, Connect, and Smile. If you consciously try to do this, the location you are in will be transformed. You have the control.

Here are some challenge ideas for you to try:
  • Look to the person to the left or right and do something nice. Say good morning, hold a door open, bring them a coffee when you get one. Simple acts of kindness.
  • Talk to the person instead of writing the email. Electronic communication is necessary, and can be very helpful, but it doesn’t support true community. When you can, have face to face interactions.
  • Put your phone away. Think of the last time you were in a conversation with someone and they took their phone out. Did it make you feel isolated or rejected? 

Our work is to connect with people- coworkers, residents, collaterals- not to be online 24/7.     

By: Tim Vaughan
Director of Leadership and Growth

Friday, March 6, 2015

TIP of the WEEK: Facing Big Changes

Graduations, moving, new jobs- these are all major life changes that effect all of us. For those who struggle with even minor transitions, these big events take careful planning.

1. Focus on what will be the same. Find similarities from past experiences to soften the transition and create sameness. If they enjoyed certain aspects of past jobs or places that they lived then focus on what will be similar in the next job or living arrangement.

2. Allow for stress. Make time to wind down, even more than usual. Take frequent breaks in the day and keep expectations low in the beginning. Slowly add tasks and demands when you notice a decrease in anxiety.

3. Be proactive. If you know that this next chapter will bring changes to routines then be ready with new schedules and frequent reinforcers for making it through each step.

I don't think anyone could say it better than our recent graduate, Ayanna. Her words for her fellow students shows us that even the biggest changes can be met with wisdom and grace.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Teachers Excelling at Latham Centers

Meghan Pouliot (left) with Kara McDowell (Pictured Right) Meghan with two Latham students.

Two months ago, I had the pleasure of nominating one of our employees for the “2015 Excellence in Teaching Award” hosted and awarded by the Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools (maaps). In contemplating which teacher I would nominate amongst our vastly talented teachers, Meghan stood out for many reasons. The award was given to another deserving candidate, however, Meghan deserves extreme recognition for her  contributions and dedication to Latham Centers.

Meghan has taught in one of our older classrooms, “Nauset”, for two and half years, and has expanded her career in many aspects. Meghan is enrolled in her masters and continues to volunteer outside of Latham. She ran the Falmouth Road Race in Latham’s honor this past year and raised significant funds for the work we do here at Latham. She created and instructs our, “Lights Camera Action” club which uses digital media to create the announcements that are played in all of our classrooms each morning. Meghan expanded her mastery of this by creating more differentiated forms of media and is teaching the students how to use each one. Meghan also creates a yearbook each year for the students and staff. She utilizes different electronic cameras to take pictures of staff and students, and utilizes a program on the computer to put together a yearbook. Meghan is also proficient in her use of the iPad and Promethean Board in her classroom. Her expertise in many modes of technology is one to be admired. She is consistently finding new resources to utilize in her curriculum and integrates the vast and expanding world of technology in her classroom.
One of the most outstanding contributions Meghan has made here at Latham is her integration of a class entitled “Nauset Circle”. Meghan has created a time block in her classroom schedule dedicated to students learning how to communicate with one another on a variety of topics. Meghan has created a curriculum that encompasses the need for positive, effective communication amongst both staff and peers. Upon viewing this class, one sees that all students are active participants; raising hands, speaking clearly and softly, and engaged. Meghan ensures that all of her students’ voices are heard, and that all thoughts and feelings are shared. Meghan also has created a dynamic where voices are talked about; what one student brings up, the entire class has a discussion on. Meghan has instilled an amazing atmosphere in her classroom.

Meghan has also been an influential member of our team in that she goes above and beyond for her coworkers. She is the first to volunteer to stay late on a shift, come in early, or go the extra mile in any way. She is always willing to assist students in any area, including off-campus opportunities, sensory art integration, and vocational work. I cannot express the overwhelming gratitude we have for Meghan and her work. She is a honest, engaging, and hard-working coworker who is always striving to be a better version of herself. Her dedication to the educational team here at Latham and her dedication to her students is inspiring.

Submitted by Kara McDowell
Assistant Principal