Teacher’s Note: Zach is a 17-year-old student at May Center School for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders which he has attended since 2011. We asked Zach to share, in his own words, what he wants people to know about brain injury, and see in him, and Zach wrote the following.
My name is Zach. What I would like people to know about me is that I am smart, respectful, and kind. I would also like people to know that I am a good basketball and football player. I ran track. I am helpful, understanding, friendly, and I love everybody. I have an awesome mom and dad, my sister Abby, and a dog named Sophie that I live with. Today I’m going to tell you how the May Center helped become the person I am today.
I came to the May Center on 10/24/2011 because I needed help. I was a terror to everyone. I had a lot of trouble in school. The work was too hard. The teachers were annoying. I had a lot of trouble concentrating and my grades weren’t great.
When I started at the May Center I was in Ms. Marty’s classroom. She is good with little kids. She helped me a lot with my writing. She also helped me with math sometimes. She is a really nice teacher. I learned a lot about myself in Ms. Marty’s classroom and she helped me so much.
A few years after I began at the May, I moved to Ms. Liz’s classroom. When I came into Ms. Liz’s class I had trouble paying attention and staying on task. I had difficulty with math. Ms. Liz introduced me to a program called iXL that I could complete my math work on. It motivated me because I can use the iPad. It also tells you what you got wrong and how to fix the problem which made me more independent with my work. Ms. Liz also helped me by listening to me and talking to me when I’m mad or frustrated.
My first few days at the May were scary but I like it here and I made lots of friends. Some of my greatest friends are Messiah and Michael. I play basketball with them and I think they are cool. Michael and Messiah helped me get better at basketball because they are good friends. I like hanging out with them. My friends have always had my back through and through.
The Trans. Ed. or Transitional Education Department has helped me so much throughout the years. We get to work in the school store and we go help people bowl. We get to set up lunches for all the kids in the school. Mr. Justin even coaches our basketball team. They teach us to work hard and stay focused. They even taught me how upsell certain items at the school store which I am really good at.
The May Center School has helped me in so many ways over the 8 years I have been here. I want to say thank you to Ms. Marty for helping me when I started and making me feel welcome. I want to thank Josie, Gage, and Darlene for helping me with my programs or talking to me when I am sad or mad. You play with me in the gym. I’m so glad I met you all. I want to say thank you to Trans. Ed. for helping learn to be a hard worker. I want to say thank you to Ms. Sam for helping me be a stronger writer. Finally, I want to thank Ms. Liz. You’ve helped me grow so much. You always take your time with me. You have taught me so much over the years I have known you and have made me such a strong, independent person. I wouldn’t be where I am without you all. You all take your time with me and you don’t have to be here every day but you choose to be. Thank you.
WCVB's 5 On Your Health Features Brockton Student [11/15/18]
Following a devastating car crash that left him with a traumatic brain injury, Gage Senter had to re-learn how to walk, talk, and skate. Stacey Sirotta, his physical therapist at the May Center School for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders, helped the former hockey player achieve his dream of returning to the ice. more
Teen Hockey Player Returns to the Ice After Suffering Traumatic Brain Injury in Accident: 'I feel great' [ABC News Radio, 11/19/18]
Brockton student Gage Senter's success story was featured in a nationally syndicated story on ABC News Radio. more
Brockton Student Gage Senter Featured in ABC News Online Article [11/19/18]
After experiencing a traumatic brain injury and undergoing 22 months of rehabilitation, former hockey player Gage Senter made a triumphant return to the ice. He has become a role model at the May Center School for Brain Injury in Brockton, Mass., for other young people with serious brain injuries. more
ABC World News Features Brockton Student in "America Strong" Segment [11/19/18]
"I feel like the old me," says Gage Senter, a student at the May Center for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders. more
Teen Continues Amazing Recovery After Devastating Car Crash [WCVB TV 12/20/18]
Bauer Hockey of Exeter, NH, helped Brockton student Gage Senter celebrate his return to the ice with some very special gifts. more
Teen hockey player returns to the ice after suffering traumatic brain injury in accident: 'I feel great'
The journey from childhood into adulthood has been long and sometimes difficult for 20-year-old Nick. He has cerebral palsy and left-side paralysis as the result of a traumatic birth, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Tourette syndrome. Even so, these challenges have not kept him from growing into an accomplished and confident young man.
“Nicholas is my grandson. Your staff is well aware of the difficult times he has experienced in his lifetime. I usually speak with Nicholas weekly. Last week we were talking about his program at the May Center School. This is what he told me, and I believe you will be proud of the good work you are doing with him:
“Mimi, I wish this school was here for me years ago. I am learning like I knew I could. I know my behavior is a big issue, but I’m working on this. Coming off the medication is helping me, I think clearer. I can now do some math, which I need to learn to take care of myself if I am ever on my own.”
Now if that doesn’t blow one away, nothing will. We are so proud of Nicholas.
My daughter and Mark are wonderful parents. They have devoted their lives to Nicholas’s care, always seeking what was best for him. Fighting many obstacles, including people who do not understand. A special needs child also deserves the very best in healthcare and education. Having worked in the field of autism — my degree is in social work — I always knew there had to be a better learning environment for Nicholas. He has found it.
Before closing, I must share with you one lovely part of his brother’s wedding day. Each time I spoke with Nicholas in the months before the wedding, he would talk about how Jaclyn would be a beautiful bride, and how his brother Ryan was going to be very happy being married. Then he would add, “I hope I can be married one day.”
It was wonderful to witness Nicholas at his brother’s wedding. There was a lot of dancing, but at one point no one was on the floor. Nicholas got up and began to dance! Family and friends were so surprised, and then the guests joined him. Soon the dance floor was full, and those who stood were cheering Nicholas on. Yes, he was just as good as the other dancers. He certainly surprised all of us that he could dance. He was presenting himself as an adult — a teary moment for sure.
Your staff is providing confidence for Nicholas, that he is able to achieve goals. A huge thank you for his care along with his education.”
– Shirley Wilmoth
My name is Taylor Cahill and I would love to share my success story. My story at the May Center School for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders in Brockton, Mass., started when I was 15. My mom sent me to the school because she and my dad thought it was the best decision for me. It is a controlled environment with staff, but I was basically on my own. Many of the staff are amazing people. Some of them I adored. I am blessed to have them in my life, because I feel without those amazing people none of this would have become a reality.
When I brought up the idea that I wanted to go to college I started taking college courses while I was at the May Center, and school staff would accompany me to classes. I was taking classes at one of Brockton’s community colleges, Massasoit. I received good grades there. When I went home after I graduated from the May Center with my high school diploma, I told my mom there were three things I wanted: 1) to drive; 2) to have my own place; and 3) to get a college degree. So I enrolled in a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program at the community college in my hometown, Middlesex Community College.
I soon came to figure out it was not going to be easy. But with the skills I learned at the May Center I was able to succeed with an A in the class. On April 20, 2017, I graduated and received my certificate stating that I was a CNA.
I would like to thank Margarette, Ana, Chris, and Romina because they were a few of my favorite residential staff who encouraged me to try my best at all times and didn’t take the “I can’t do it” phrase from me. I would also like to thank a few of the school staff for my success: Katherine, Jessie, John, Megan, and Jedidah for pushing me to do my best at all times in school and being my motivational supporters.
I am a CNA and I am a success story! I hope I will not be the last from the May Center to graduate. Anything is possible with the proper drive and motivation. I proved that.
I’m motivated by not wanting to be stuck. I don’t want to be a “problem kid.” My motivation is to prove everybody wrong. I CAN get better. I CAN write. I CAN read. I CAN ride a bike. I CAN do all this stuff, even though others have told me I can’t.
When you’ve been told that you can’t for so long, and then a school comes along with people who tell you that you CAN – it makes you feel really good. That’s been some of my motivation to push myself to the absolute limit of everything that I’ve been through.
I try to fit in and be as normal as I can, but I don’t think the main goal in life is to strive for normality. Everybody has a different path. Everybody has their own journey, their own struggle. My mom has always told me that normal doesn’t exist. It’s just a setting on a washing machine.
I feel like this is my journey. This is my experience. The May Center School has been a big part of helping me figure that out. For that, I’m thankful.
– Declan, Student at May Center for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders
Like most teenage girls, Jalisa has crushes on boys, and loves to dress up and to dance.
We knew Jalisa was different when she was placed with us for foster care, but it wasn’t until she was three months old that we learned she had Costello Syndrome. At the time, only 25 people in the world had that diagnosis. The condition is global, affecting most every area of the body.
Jalisa has a happy personality that draws in all who meet her. She is inquisitive and enjoys school immensely. At the May Center School for Brain Injury and Related Disorders, they just know how to teach her in a way she can learn. She gets to go to dances, and she was so excited to go to her prom!
When Jalisa was an infant, she left us briefly for a pre-adoption that didn’t work out. When she came back, we kept her from then on — she’s a keeper. When we announced it in church, they said, “Thank God she’s finally ours!” And we said, “OK, we’ll share!”
—Susan, Jalisa’s mother