5 Questions with…Susan Seamans, Executive Director
In considering my expectations for the students, I take my lead from the mission of the organization. We focus on helping children develop strong life skills and self-confidence, so that they can integrate into their communities as fully as possible. Students must be able to access the curriculum and we are increasingly using mainstream technology, adaptations, and innovative teaching strategies so that the curriculum is available to them. Through this approach we build on their strengths and must consider how their disabilities may affect their learning, and then make appropriate adaptations and accommodations. In addition, we encourage emotional, physical, and social independence for each child.
2. In your opinion, what makes P.G. Chambers School stand-out from other private schools for children with disabilities?
If I had to choose one thing, it would be our ability to be innovative and to challenge the norms of traditional special education. We are not afraid to take risks in designing new programs and therapies. This approach is clearly evident in our use of mainstream technology, for example, the iPad. About a year ago we challenged the staff to design learning activities, improve communication, and integrate this technology into the school curriculum. The results were fantastic… with everything from building stands and mounts to hold the iPad, to programming the iPad for students’ to participation in class meetings. We are now seeing exceptional team problem-solving, identifying and adapting, when necessary, mainstream technology for school, home, and the community.
3. What motivates you?
The challenge of being the executive director of a successful school provides enormous motivation for me. In my role, I must balance both the need to provide state-of-the-art services with the financial needs of the school. Working with an exceptional board of directors, supports me in this effort. The goal of P.G. Chambers School is to make the children’s lives richer and their opportunities broader. Each day, seeing the dedication, excellence, and innovative ideas of teachers, therapists, and families, along with the efforts of the students, is remarkable – one could not need more motivation than this.
4. Where do you see the school five and ten years from now?
As opposed to seeing the organization five or ten years in the future, I prefer to have an organization that is able to respond quickly to change and to have a staff that welcomes change at every turn. After almost 60 years of providing education and therapy to children with disabilities, I am very proud to see that the school operates from sound beliefs and philosophy, while also responding to the needs of a changing educational and economic environment. A direction that I would like to see us pursue in the future it to expand and improve our collaborative efforts with public and private schools.
5. What is your greatest wish for the future?
My wish for the future is for P.G. Chambers School to remain on its upward trajectory. To accomplish this we must continue to increase the quality of our programming by attracting the highest quality staff members. We must also stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the use of technology in the classroom. Continuous Integration of the new technology is essential for the future of P.G. Chambers School.