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.
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.
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.
Jaye’s journey at COMPASS began as a job that he saw as temporary; however, the connections that he made with the students almost made it feel as though they became his own. He wants to see them succeed and do well and doesn’t want to leave until this happens.
Attachment theory is just one way in which I get to explore such a relationship with those clients that I interact with. What does a “secure” relationship really look like? How do we achieve such a thing? And what does all this really mean for me? The beauty is that I don’t really know. It’s not for me to tell others what to know. It’s for them to find out, and me to listen. That’s just what COMPASS does. Finds out what it means to be you, not us telling you how to do it.
As an organization that serves individuals with different types of disabilities, it is important to be aware of the laws that govern what we do here at COMPASS. The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) is a law that ensures a free and appropriate education (FAPE) to children with disabilities throughout the country, ensuring special education and related services to those children. The IDEA impacts more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.
As I chatted with the woman at the desk, someone spoke up from the office bench behind me. “If you can get a job at COMPASS, go there,” the woman said. “That school saved my son’s life!” I’m sure she had no idea that her words would lead me on a 23-year journey to a fulfilling and exciting career as a teacher, and now Principal, at COMPASS.