August 20, 2010
Dear LABBB Staff:
“I went to the woods to live deliberately.”
This is my fourth draft of this letter. I covered a myriad of subjects, but each draft, even in my most creative moments, has not been able to capture what I want to communicate. Let me start by saying that I hope you are enjoying your summer. I went to the woods, camping, a few weeks ago. Yes, in a tent, with no amenities, except for some pots and pans. Camping is not my cup of tea. I don’t get it; they didn’t even have wireless internet. I am just glad I didn’t forget my blackberry. Fortunately, we were joined by two other families who were expert campers, and I felt like a fish out of water. As we pitched our tents, I observed, with curiosity, as one adult whom I just met, put on a belt with a case holding three long knives. It didn’t bother me at first, but the fact that I did not see him use any of the three knives all day long had me a little worried. What is the reason for wearing the knives if you are not going to use them? It became evening and we had a little wine, cooked dinner, and finally ended with s’mores. It was a cool night, a clear sky and no mosquitoes…just perfect…a good time to take off any knives around your waist and just relax. When that didn’t happen, I began to think, “I will not be sleeping tonight.”
Ahhh, out of the woods and back to reality with my computer and internet, this is where I can live deliberately. I want to say thank you for reading my blog. Yes, your morning begins as you say to yourself, “Before I leave I must read Patric’s blog.” Of course, you start your early routine by checking your e-mail, but then go directly to LABBB.com (which you have in your favorites) and you click on Executive Directors blog. Next, you finally sit back and take time to enjoy your cup of coffee or tea. I am sure you all have seen the “Wellness” link and are waiting for the next article!
So you ask, “Why write a letter if you have a blog, isn’t that redundant?” The truth is, I know my blog is not your most important website to visit, but as technology has changed our lives, still, there is something satisfying about sitting back, opening a letter and reading it in your own hands rather than from the computer screen. I implore you to take a deep breath, relax and bear with me for a few moments. A mindful moment we could all use each day.
This letter is to simply to say, Thank you. Thank you to each one of you who come to work each day and display your passion for teaching and working with students with special needs. Given that we have students and staff in over fifty-two locations each day, including our classrooms and worksites, it is difficult to reach everyone to say thank you. This is the purpose of my letter.
Thank you to every Teacher who gives every effort to being present for their students and giving them the very best you can. You may be getting hit, pinched, kicked, sworn at, but you know you can make a change in our student’s lives; therefore, you treat each day as a new day to make a difference, to make that one student better. Thank you for giving the parents an ear to listen to and be their support system because you know how difficult and challenging their lives can be. It is frustrating at times, but you have experienced those moments when you have gained their trust and they depend on your guidance; that is why you are the Teacher.
Thank you to all our support related service providers including: Speech Therapists, Counselors, BCBA’s, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, COTA’s, Physical Therapists, PTA’s, APE staff and Reading Specialists. Each service you provide as a specialty helps the student grow and thrive. You work as a team and are the expert who can make a difference in a student’s ability to function more independently, even if it is the slightest improvement. You have the skill to increase a student’s ability to communicate, their most valuable need. Teaching a child how to adapt, ambulate and understand their feelings and behaviors is your passion and you do it the best. Your skills are unique to each child and without your expertise our students would not have the same opportunities to succeed. The classroom and worksite staff respects your expertise because they know you can help give that one piece of advice or technique that they need to help a student develop.
Thank you to all the Secretaries. Phone calls, more phone calls, forms, files, IMG system, FMLA, letters, keys, gas cards and all the other ancillary unexpected issues that come up during the day and dealing with them on the spot are how you spend your day. We could not get things done without you. I am sure I have not included the countless other things that come up during the day, but I am certain you are saying them to me right now in your head as you read this. Thank you.
Thank you to all the Assistant Teachers. Your job is the most diverse. Furthermore, your patience with students who take out their frustration and anger on you are something that you know could happen any day, anywhere, anytime without notice. Teachers could not function and run the classroom without you. You have the ability to work with students that others many have difficulty working with, but you have just the right words or actions that the student responds to. You have to adapt everyday to changing schedules, changing needs in the program and many other issues that may arise but you do it with enthusiasm. Your flexibility to work with any child is appreciated and we need to recognize your hard work because you are willing to do anything to make the day run efficiently. Thank you.
Thank you to all the Vocational Staff, which include our Vocational Coordinator, Job site supervisors, Vocational counselors, Job coaches, and Workshop staff. You not only work with the students from the classroom, but you also work in private industries and understand the need for business etiquette and building relationships. It is a different world when you are in a business community, especially when you have our students to be responsible for while you are there. You are driven to helping the business understand our students’ needs and how they can be an asset to the company. “Just give our students a chance and we will show you what they can do” is your motivation. When our students rise to the occasion, you know that this creates more opportunities for them in the company. These businesses keep LABBB students there even through tough economic times because they know they are important to the company. You have two responsibilities: teaching our students how to work, and making sure they complete the jobs the company pays our students to do. You have to satisfy both and provide the highest quality standards that are expected from the company. Thank you for representing LABBB in these industries and showing them our professionalism.
Nurses, thank you. Our students have some of the most complex medical issues and I have never seen a more caring team that understands and responds to our students well being. Thank you for working with our families because health and safety in school are one of their most stressful issues. They know how fragile their child can be, but with your confidence, assurance, and follow through, they know that their child’s most serious medical needs will be taken care of during the school day and that is comforting to them. Thank you.
Thank you to our Coordinators. You have to deal with the moment to moment issues that arise and you need to solve it….yesterday. Your list of replies to staff, Out of District Liaisons, Principals, among others is extremely long and you know that each one is important. You are there to provide the team with stability. You have many problems to work through and do not always have an immediate answer and you need to be creative. The districts put huge pressure on you for detailed paperwork, phone calls, crisis situations and urgent needs. You never feel like you can get it all done and you try to work and please everyone the best you can. You know the districts are our clients and it is a delicate balance trying to meet their demanding needs.
Thank you to the Program Directors for being our leaders. You know and accept that being a leader is making decisions that probably will not please everyone, but you do it only in the best interest of the programs and our staff. If it doesn’t work, you never give up on thinking that there is always another way, a possibility, a solution or a change that might make it better for everyone and make LABBB better. Thank you for being a leader who tries to understand the needs of all staff. You have to cope with your Executive Director’s incessant e-mails and bad jokes; I am sorry. You are a listener to many staff persons who may have different ideas and you try your best to learn from this feedback. There are the days that you are just overwhelmed. You would do anything for a staff member because health and family are most important and that is a philosophy you believe in.
Thank you to the LABBB Central office staff. Your positive energy and attention to detail help raise the bar for myself and the program. Your professionalism is healthy and a model for our organization. Teamwork is what drives me and it is just an amazing experience. I never have to be concerned about blame or criticism from you and if there is a mistake, I know you will ask, “How are We going to fix it.” It gets done and we move on. That is a team value I cherish. Thank you for being determined to communicating how we can continue to improve LABBB and how we can implement systems to save time, make everyone’s jobs easier and efficient, and respond to all staff needs.
If I have forgotten anyone please forgive me; I do appreciate your hard work. I know one thing and that is I need to say Thank you more. Each position is important and serves an essential need. We are interdependent and that’s what makes the Collaborative work, but working together as a team is what makes us LABBB!