New faces in the classrooms at The Barry Robinson Center (BRC) are a welcome addition for teachers and residents.
A new teacher assistant program is the latest in a series of changes to enhance BRC’s academic services for residents. Currently, BRC employs about a dozen teacher assistants and is working to ensure their support in every educational setting.
“Our teacher assistants are the eyes and ears of the school. They’re keen observers with experience working with residents in the treatment facility,” said Eric Krumich, vice president of Education. “They record notable behaviors and participate in our academic meetings with teachers and administrative staff as we provide information to BRC’s collaborative team. They’re providing very valued input.”
Teacher assistants attend all professional development training sessions for the Education department. This includes pertinent topics such as Fundamentals of Special Education, Autism Primer, and Monitoring/Tracking Performance of online educational courses. As part of their work, they chart student interactions, attitudes, and behaviors daily and provide timely input to the educational team.
“We carefully selected our teacher assistants – all college graduates. They work consistently with specific groups of students, know their characteristics and form bonds with them,” Krumich explained.
Positive connections with staff are a cornerstone of BRC’s treatment approach. The teacher assistant program helps amplify that approach in the school. Residents build trusting relationships with the teacher assistants. They often ask for guidance and help from the assistants while in school, he added.
Cedonia Carter, who has worked for BRC in a variety of roles over the past 32 years, is team leader for the teacher assistants.
“I enjoy working with residents and staff,” she said. “I wanted a change, and this is a way for me to provide services in more of an educational setting. This is a good change for BRC because we’re giving residents even more individual support and attention.
“We’re providing extra support when residents struggle academically or emotionally. We’re proactive and therapeutic at all times. We always do our best to give them the support they need.”
As team leader, Carter uses all her extensive experience from working in dorms, education and case management. She manages staff, works in classrooms as needed, assists teachers, and helps residents with coping skills.
“So far, our teachers love the teacher assistants. Several teachers have remarked that they are doing a great job, and it makes the classroom environment much more manageable. I like to think of them as ‘force multipliers,’” said Krumich, an Army veteran.