nName: Ryan Brown Position: TBS Worker What led you to your current position? My first two years with Seneca were at Cox Academy as a Student Support Assistant where I worked as an 1:1 aide, providing all-day support for Tier 3 kiddos. I was also lucky enough to spend part of a year working in the Learning Lab, doing academic interventions for Tier 2 and Tier 3 students. In those two years one of the things that stood out for me was the importance of connection between families and school. The more connection there was, the more a family was engaged with and knew what was going on at school behaviorally and academically, the better their child did. However, the reality is that many families are not connected in those important ways. I wanted to understand more about that and to experiment with bridging that gap.
Contract changes with Education For Change, the charter organization running Cox Academy, ended the SSA position, so it was time to look for something else. TBS was proposed by my supervisor as a possible next step, and I jumped at the chance to work more closely with families. I thought it would be a great way to gain more experience with direct care and to learn about how families do and don’t connect with their child’s school and the barriers to connection.
Fun Fact/Quote: I love this quote, which I’ve been unable to attribute to a person. “Don't let someone dim your light just because it's shining in their eyes.” I love thinking about this quote from different perspectives: a client who is misunderstood, permission I can give myself to shine, the influence of race, culture, and identity and where, when, and how much it’s “ok” to shine a light.
What does your average day look like? My days are a mix of different versions of service meetings: 1:1 with caregivers, 1:1 with clients, family meetings, or school team meetings. These meetings occur at homes, schools, coffee shops, parks – anywhere that works for families. There’s a fair amount of driving from place to place, which is not my favorite, but I’ve found some really great podcasts. Try out Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything. Between meetings I write mental health notes and prepare various documents required by the program. I also have individual and group supervision every week.
Why do you do this work? It’s taken a lot of years to really get it, but I think I get it now. Maybe. ;-) Human connection is fundamental to being human. Without it, we can’t be content, happy, functional, successful. For me, this work is about human connection: helping families heal the from wounds that disconnect them and giving children and families an experience of care that is as free as I can get of judgment and any personal agenda. I am so grateful to work in the communities I work in, to be invited into people’s homes, and to be trusted with the details of their lives, histories and, most significantly, with their children. Through this work I get constant reminders that we all have the same basic needs, and we’re all trying to get them met. I see that love is always present, relationships are complicated and messy, and things are rarely simple.
As difficult as this work can be, it is also an antidote to a hopelessness I feel at times when I become too focused what’s not working well in the world. I see that no matter how gnarly things get, the light can always get in.
What hope do you have for the future of All-In? My hope is that one day we will run our own school(s). We know children sometimes need a lot of non-academic support before they are ready and able to learn. We know schools still largely operate with assumptions/expectations that children will arrive ready and able to learn. We know this isn’t reality for a lot of kids. I’d like to see All-In! take the bold step of rethinking “school” in a big way, to explicitly acknowledge and strive to meet basic needs and to help families increase their capacity to meet basic needs. Then we read and write and do math and stuff.