Jessica Raders, 2008 Trustees’ Fund Awardee

Jessica Raders, 2008 Trustees’ Fund Awardee

Classroom Teacher
The Bay School
Santa Cruz, Calif.

Jessica “Jessie” Raders has grown professionally with The Bay School -- one May Institute's special education schools -- for the past four years. She started as an Instructor and has worked her way up to Classroom Teacher. Jessie demonstrates an unwavering devotion to her students, their families and her colleagues.

One of the special qualities about Jessie is the rapport she develops with her students, many of whom exhibit extremely challenging behaviors. Her love for and commitment to these children are without parallel; parents frequently comment on her dedication and professionalism. The following exerpts from a parent letter illustrate the exemplary services Jessie provides:

When people ask me what Gabe’s program has meant for our family, I have a very difficult time answering. This is not because it hasn’t been significant, but because it has changed everything. My dilemma is, how do I explain to someone that before Jessie and The Bay School, there was only pain and sadness, and now there is hope and joy? Do people want to hear how much we had struggled?

Gabe’s world was shrinking. Caving in on itself is a more accurate description. My biggest fear was that he could not be helped. His aggression was explosive. How do you harness a rocket? Impossible, right?

Jessie did it. The change was subtle at first. It has taken years, but she was diligent. She taught him to nestle his fists into cozy pockets instead of hitting his head. She gave him the words “all done” when things were so overwhelming that he felt the urge to hurt someone. Recently, at seven years old, he learned the word “NO,” a powerful word in emotional development. Jessie creates goals that, I hate to admit, as his mother, I have doubted he could achieve, and he has met these goals and then some.

At last his world is beginning to open again. We live near the ocean. We can walk out the door of our tiny house and be at the ocean in less than five minutes. Gabe could not do this. He could not hold hands. He ran into the street. I was fearful for his safety. Jessie taught him to hold hands. It sounds ridiculously simple, but it was a struggle. He bit whoever’s hand he was holding. He refused to walk. He cried and kicked. Today, we walk every evening. When it is time to go he reaches for my hand as naturally as if he has been doing it his entire life. Often when his hand slips into mine, he looks into my face and smiles. What has Jessie meant to our family? She has given us our boy back.

Sincerely, Jesse Gonzalez

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