As the mathematics teacher for high school aged students at the COMPASS school for the last 6 years, I’ve had the opportunity to contemplate and research the purpose of math education. Among numerous personal discoveries, I found that the most successful lessons engaged questions that connected math work in the classroom to other disciplines and real life applications. Often faced with the question, “when will I actually use this (insert literally any math topic) in the real world?” educators are required to think a little outside of the box. I’ll share one way we’ve tackled the question at the COMPASS school.
The COMPASS Corner blog is an opportunity for COMPASS staff to share their knowledge and experience about a variety of topics in the special education and human services fields. Posts will be about an area staff are an expert in, what motivates them to do this work, a success story from a student/client, etc.
Takia has seen COMPASS evolve since she joined in 1999. “When I started, we were given beepers and paper maps to get around and communicate with our families,” remembers Takia. The growth of the Community Services program has been what has surprised her the most. She has seen the program at its lowest number of staff in 2008 (9 staff members) to the present when it boasts a staff of over 80.
Head Caseworker Alex Stylien will be completing his thirteenth year at COMPASS this February. When he first heard of COMPASS in 2007, he jumped at the opportunity to begin to develop and hone his skills as a behavior specialist. From the very beginning of his time at COMPASS, Alex realized that he had a knack for empathizing with students and the situations that they were in – inside and outside of school.
When I tell people that I’ve worked at COMPASS for 32 years I get looks of shock, words of congratulations, and sometimes a raised eyebrow. I came to COMPASS right out of graduate school, referred by a trusted public school administrator who said, “it’s a wonderful place, and you will learn a lot.” Here I am years later still learning and still appreciating what COMPASS is, what it gives to its employees, and especiallywhat it does for its clients.
Three and a half years ago, Marlee Brown started at COMPASS as a Family Specialist for the Community Services program, working as a mentor to youth and families that were involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). As of May 2019, Marlee graduated with a Master’s in Social Work and has advanced to be a Family Clinician.
As Worcester Program Supervisors and Family Clinicians, we, Ha Bui-Le and Yaritza Solero, believe that it is important for all COMPASS staff, no matter their backgrounds, to be aware of the complexities and idiosyncrasies of the many cultures that make up COMPASS’ client base. These nuances can take the form of predetermined gender roles, the influence of religion, family dynamics, language barriers and context, and generational roles and interactions.