Thursday, August 14, 2014

Top Ten Reasons Why I Teach at Latham Centers


10. My own schooling: In order to maintain my educators’ liscensure here at Latham, I went back to school to pursue an M. Ed., which has forced me to test my limits academically while working full-time. In doing so, I have honed my research skills while learning the tools to effectively initiate a robust learning environment. Furthering one’s education is one of the single best ways to experience success and teaching at Latham has pushed me to do it!

9. The Nursing Staff: Coordinating with the nurses in a Special Education School is essential, and these coworkers have given me a great deal of knowledge surrounding medical issues related to the many diagnoses we deal with here at Latham. Aside from offering their own health advice for staff, they constantly support my own work when medications have to be packed, a scrape needs to be tended to, or I need my own health checked out.

8. The Clinical Staff: Since working at Latham, I often utilize our Clinical staff for my own debriefing. This team has worked wonders with my students, most of whom attend therapy twice weekly. Their perspectives often add a great deal of insight as to what’s happening in the classroom, and help assess the entire ecology of each student. They tend to be a gentle, creative bunch, and their attitudes are contagious!

7. The trainings and professional development: Since working at Latham, I’ve had opportunities to educate myself on complex issues such as working effectively with Youth-At-Risk, Bullying Prevention, Suicide Prevention, PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder, to name a few. The ability to educate myself continually here has helped me enhance my scope of knowledge surrounding the students I work with while growing professionally because of it.

6. The location: The Brewster campus where I work is constantly beautified by the Maintenance department here. My own classroom sits in a historic captain’s house, which for many, embodies the quintessential Cape Cod home. Did I mention I work on Cape Cod? The setting here lends itself to a plethora of educational field trips and recreation for our students while offering easy access to the single best healer in the world: the ocean.

5. My administrators: My administrators have provided me with great support and understanding. I’ve heard of administrative battles in other schools that simply don’t exist here. Most of the people that supervise me have once taken on the responsibilities that I currently hold. Because of this, they show great empathy for problems that arise and have also become great cheerleaders for their staff.

4. Education Staff: My coworkers on the education team have provided me with great role models who have mentored me into teaching today. They not only know how to express themselves professionally in everyday interactions and meeting, but they also make time to meet outside of work, debrief, and connect.

3. Freedom within the Frameworks: As a great deal of our students complete the Alternative Assessment, and as others come from different states, Latham, like many other private schools, offers much flexibility within the MA frameworks. Because of this, I’m not subjected to the judgments and anxieties involved in high-stakes testing that many other school systems are prone to. I can tailor my classroom to theme-based units around respect and diversity, while still allowing students access to the general curriculum provided by the state.

2. The curriculum: The curriculum within my classroom centers on fostering independence needed for effective transition into adulthood, including necessary life skills and community integration. It offers me the flexibility to be creative in my planning while holding students to a higher level of expectations and trust. The transitional curriculum at Latham gives me an opportunity to not only teach but also be a resource for our students during these often anxious times of impending transition.

1. The students: While the obvious answer, the truth is this: These guys have more courage than most people realize. Some come from broken homes; others are dealing with a lifelong genetic disability that affects their ability to self-regulate. Watching them exercise their “mind muscles” in the classroom and within the community brings me the most joy working here because they are able to overcome these intense issues, press on every day, and do it with a smile. They’re the real heroes!


Submitted by:
John Bonanni, teacher

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