New job for a sharp but battered public schools special educator?
January 10, 2018 11:58 AM   Subscribe

My partner's mother is a 50 something year old woman who for the majority of her professional life has been a special educator in the Delaware public schools. She loves working with the kids but the work environment is horrendous and it's having a tremendously negative impact on her physical and mental health. We are at the brainstorming stage and trying to come up with ways of finding paths to equally rewarding situations that are much healthier in mind, body, and spirit.

Ideal would be some field that she already has an ideal skill set for coming out of public school special education and could make an immediate near horizontal switch. Obviously we don't live in an ideal world – especially for educators – so also really interested in finding out resources and people who could support her in a process to qualify for new jobs in similar fields.

Are there programs, real world or online, that help with this kind of stuff? Are there people who provide this sort of service professionally? Basically we are open to anything, even if its just encouragement. It's really difficult to see somebody who cares so much treated so harshly, would love to her find a new place to thrive.
posted by lips to Education (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My first thought is private practice as a tutor or in home teacher for children with special needs. If she doesn't mind being on the road a bit, she could provide weekly individual home visits for home schooled kids and/or be a group leader where parents bring in their home schooled kids for social time. She could look for special-education co-ops to see if there are any outside of the school districts, since I assume she doesn't want to start out on her own.
posted by soelo at 12:17 PM on January 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yep, tutoring for special-needs kids is definitely a high-demand area. You might look to see whether there are any companies where she is that specialize in this, as having a structure to arrange the logistics can help a lot. But she could do it freelance too.
posted by limeonaire at 12:47 PM on January 10, 2018

By the way, here's an example of a company in my area that hires tutors for kids with special needs, so you can see what that kind of practice looks like.
posted by limeonaire at 1:13 PM on January 10, 2018

A friend of mine has a child with Down's Syndrome, and she is having trouble navigating the IEP with the school. She was able to find an advocate that she could hire to help her navigate the system. This person attends meetings with the school (together with my friend) and reviews paperwork, applications, etc. Important to point out: advocate is not a lawyer, just a person with a lot of experience with schools and special needs kids. In order to call herself an advocate she had to obtain some sort of certifcate, but otherwise she has all of the experience and "training" that she needs in order to be successful.

Memail me if your MIL wants specific info.
posted by vignettist at 2:58 PM on January 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Could she apply for a job at a different school in her district -- for example, a different age group -- or apply to a different district (in possibly even a different state?) For now, could she look into taking short-term leave or even the FMLA? If she isn't already, I'd really recommend using her health benefits to see a psychologist and/or psychiatrist for support until she can leave this job?
posted by smorgasbord at 4:36 PM on January 10, 2018

Would your mom like to continuing working with kids or would she be open to working with special needs adults? I spent the past 4 years working with differently-abled adults at a sheltered workshop a doin fairly certain I will always consider the best, most awesome and fulfilling work I'll ever be lucky enough to get to do. We were also associated with much bigger program that offered everything from an adult day care (for the very low functioning) to on site housing for the disabled and that might be an okay fit for her.

If she has a background in special needs education, she'd likely be very much in demand in these sectors. It would usually be non-profit work so I'm not sure she'd make what she'd like to make paycheck wise but it might be worth a look!

(Kudos to your mom. Compassion fatigue is a real thing and I'm always in awe of those as devoted as your mom seems to be because no matter how lovely my work was, I still needed a break just because of the emotional load. High five her me -- she sounds like an awesome human!)
posted by youandiandaflame at 6:12 PM on January 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

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