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Family Ties Tighter Than Ever at Joan Macy School in La Verne … by Julie Griffith

July 30, 2012
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Scratch the surface of a kid with special needs and you’ll find … well, a child with needs like any other.

Monica Kirk

Monica Kirk

“They’re people too,” says Monica Kirk, resource specialist at Joan Macy School on the campus of David & Margaret Youth and Family Services in La Verne. “They need love and understanding like everyone else. It’s rewarding to help them take baby steps to integrating into the community; a lot of our kids don’t know how.”

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Monica’s interest in special education was sparked by her mother’s involvement in it. In fact, for many years they both worked at Joan Macy School; her mother, Flossie Jackson, began there in 1989 as a teacher assistant. Monica followed seven months later as a behavior assistant, helping students who were having trouble staying focused in the classroom. Flossie retired four years ago, but her daughter has been there for 22 years and is still going strong.

“When the girls would figure out from a family photo she had on her desk that she and I were related, they were very curious,” Monica remembers. “They wanted to know about our relationship, why I didn’t call her ‘Mom’ at work, and asked about our family. We got to model good family behaviors for them.”

Monica became a resource specialist after earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology and social work in 2001. She serves as a counselor, sits in on Individualized Education Plan sessions, is administrator when the education director (principal) is out, and enrolls David & Margaret residents – at-risk adolescent girls – in local schools.

“I help smooth the bumpy road to public middle and high school,” Monica says of her work with the David & Margaret girls. “I’ll go to the schools at break and lunch and just let the girls see me and know I’m a resource for them. I’ve built quite a good relationship with the district and schools, which helps them understand our girls a little better, too.”

She contemplated a career shift to social work after earning her degree, “but I love Joan Macy School because every day is different. And the girls are so loving.”

Joan Macy School was established in 1989 as a specialized, non-public school for the residential program at David & Margaret. Since then, it has expanded its programs to also serve community students in grades 1 through 12 who are referred by their local school districts. For more information, call (909) 596-3173 or email JoanMacySchool@DavidandMargaret.org.

One Response to “Family Ties Tighter Than Ever at Joan Macy School in La Verne … by Julie Griffith”

  1. that’s great what you’re doing for those girl monica. God bless you Monica! and of course your mom as well.. take care!!!!!!!!!!

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