Word of the Week: Support Staff – Temple Grandin School

Word of the Week: Support Staff

As we meet with prospective families and members of the larger community, we often are asked about our support staff. Who are they? What do they do? How will they help my student? Why do we have so many of them?

In many school settings, “support staff” refers to the people who don’t work directly with students: receptionists, custodians, administrative assistants, librarians, instructional technologists and others. At TGS, there are non “non-contact” positions. ALL of our staff, including our administrators, are trained and available to support our students.

On any given day, any student might need academic support, organizational support, emotional support, social support – or Tort support, available from our reptilian support staff member, Isabella the Tortoise. Some students need a particular type of support more consistently, and as a result may be enrolled in a support program that provides pro-active academic, behavioral, or counseling support at scheduled times throughout the week. But make no mistake, all of our students need support, and we do our best to make sure they each get what they need, when they need it.

Our support staff at TGS includes professionals from the disciplines of psychology, social work, mental health, special education, speech language pathology, and behavior analysis. Added to that mix we also have staff members who have navigated the waters of autism and adolescence with their own children, and are available to provide support to parents and families as well as students. Each of these support staff sees our students and their diverse support needs through a slightly different lens; through conversation and collaboration, they develop a deep, multi-faceted understanding of the student that leads to effective intervention and authentic growth.

This trans-disciplinary approach magnifies the power of the support we provide. Instead of bringing only their own experience to help untangle a student’s challenge, they consult and confer, honing rough ideas into specific, targeted interventions that make sense to students. So, even as our support staff are strengthening students, they are expanding their individual and team insights into each student’s needs. And the expansion continues as insight are shared with our academic team, which adds yet another layer of understanding to the support process. This process continues until everyone in the building “gets it.” The results, over time, are nothing less than transformative – for our students, their families, and our entire community.

Who is our support team? They are the bedrock in which our program is anchored. They exemplify the TGS difference. Abbey, Mandy, Mary Kay, Nicole, Kristine, Maura, and Amy – hats off to you, and thanks for supporting and challenging us all!