Success is Relative: CLE Staff and Students Share what Success Means to Them
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Success is Relative: CLE Staff and Students Share what Success Means to Them

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.

by Michael S. Allen, Psy.D

Success for students with learning differencesWhat is success? How do you measure it? Although society, as a whole, has somewhat universal indicators of success (e.g., wealth, prestige, power, love), success is a benchmark that is assessed personally and individually. If you take ten different people and ask them how they would define success, they would give you ten different answers. Success is a vague, intangible term and many variables, such as age, experience, practice of faith, personality, educational level, and family values all contribute to the achievements that we hold most dear. In individuals with disabilities, the relativity of success is even more apparent than in the general population. Due to the individual challenges and personal struggles of this population, we often need to relook at our typical notions of success and make them more realistic. As someone who is in a position to support many students’ success, much of my work is geared toward helping our students set realistic benchmarks of achievement and celebrate their seemingly small, but hugely significant victories.

For this article, I asked many of our staff and students to tell me how they measure success in themselves. I also asked them to tell me what they would define as their biggest successes since starting their participation or work within the CLE program. For me, I would measure my success at CLE in whether I leave work each day knowing that I rose up to every opportunity to be of service to our staff and students. My single biggest achievement at CLE has been teaching social skills to our students through the use of interest-based interventions and activities. Below are the responses from many of our staff and students.

How do you measure success in yourself?

Robert G. – Completing tasks at all costs

Bob D. – Any time I tried my best

Connor C. – I measure my success in my awesomeness

Andrew F. – A feeling of accomplishment

Bri F. – Reaching my goal

Brice C. – Doing [well] at something

Garrett Ho. – Getting up and ready for work and working throughout the day without being tired

Hunter Ho. – Getting better and better every day

John W. – Being nice to people

Peyton T. – Learning living skills, pursuing a career, and [improving] your social life

Travis C. – How well things go without messing up

Reese G. – By hanging out with friends

Alec M. – Living by myself and taking care of my apartment

Taylor K. – By making good grades and conquering struggles

Eric D. – Happiness

Rachel W. – Trying new things like CLE’s socials and other new things with my aunt

Hunter He. – By how well I do my job and if I can pass it

How do you measure success in yourself?

Tamara G., Mentor – How effectively am I identifying students’ goals and issues? Is there progress in those areas with appropriate interventions? Do students feel heard/empowered? Will what we’re working on help the student to live independently as an adult?

Erin W. – Academic Coordinator- By reviewing tasks I’ve completed and the obstacles I’ve overcome

Cate O., Tutor – I am successful as long as I am learning and growing. Success is a process, not the attainment of a single goal

Jen H., Program Assistant – Having responsibility and feeling like I have something to give and contribute

Mary K., Campus & Community Liaison – Whether or not I am satisfied with the results

Becky D., Independent Living Skills Instructor – Personal growth

Bronwyn T., Program Director – Reaching my personal goals and knowing that I have done my best to reach them

Josh M., Resident Advisor – If I meet my expectations consistently

Elizabeth M., Mentor – When things come naturally rather than it feeling forced

Barbara T., Tutor – I measure my success at CLE through my students. For every student that I work with, I feel pride knowing that something that I said or suggested led that student to making a positive choice/decision which in turn led them to bettering themselves, or getting a better grade.

Kendra E., Mentor – Challenging myself in new ways & having the courage to push myself toward new goals

Brett B., Tutor – Overcoming obstacles, learning from mistakes, and knowing that I have helped others and brought them happiness

What has been your biggest success since starting at CLE?

Robert G. – Getting my degree

Bob D. – Learning how to take constructive feedback

Connor C. – Managing my finances

Andrew F. – Passing my classes

Bri F. – Getting accepted to Texas State University and figuring out my career goal

Brice C. – Going to college and finding a job

Garrett Ho. – Getting to live on my own

Hunter Ho. – Getting out more and trying new things

Steven O. – Learning how to manage my life a lot more

John W. – Making new friends

Peyton T. – Making new friends & learning new skills

Travis C. – Living on my own

Reese G. – Meeting new people and living on my own

Alec M. – Paying apartment bills

Taylor K. – Becoming more independent and making my own decisions

Eric D. – Graduating college

Rachel W. – Cooking, shopping, and [transportation]

Hunter He. – Cleaning and organizing my apartment, taking notes, and organizing school stuff

What has been your biggest success since starting at CLE?

Tamara G., Mentor – Communicating and developing relationships with students and staff

Erin W., Academic Coordinator – Being a part of student growth and achievement

Cate O, Tutor – The constant small successes over time and the learning that comes with them that add up to a true sense of accomplishment

Jen H., Program Assistant – Getting promoted and learning the different personalities of the students

Mary K., Campus & Community Liaison – Paying off student loans!

Becky D., ILS Instructor – Seeing students succeed

Bronwyn T., Program Director – Working with students to achieve goals, overcome obstacles, and have fun

Josh M., Resident Advisor – Learning how much I am capable of

Elizabeth M., Mentor – Being able to witness the growth in students while earning a Master’s Degree and becoming an LPC

Barbara T., Tutor – Working over several years with current and former students and seeing their accomplishments and knowing that I played a small role in their futures

Kendra E., Mentor – Being able to redefine the term “success” and recognizing each individual success, big or small!

Brett B., Tutor – Seeing students that I have worked with succeed, whether that is them moving on to a four-year college, landing a job, or merely taking a step in the right direction. Knowing that I was able to help them achieve their goals means the world to me.

Newsletter Articles – July 2015

Pablo's graduation

Parents live with the eternal hidden concern of how their children will survive when they are gone. It is not lack of faith; it is simple mathematics. We race against time, we race toward wisdom and let life pass us by. However, wisdom alone cannot make our children independent, but a life well-planned and implemented does envision a better future. Imagine now the life of parents when their child has learning disabilities! All we want is to see them independent, prepared and most importantly, aware of what this world entails so that they can act accordingly.

Rona Schwartz, Director of the Katherine Thomas High School

We have all made it through school in some way, shape or form but how did we do it and what advice could we give to the next generation? Today, success is measured by outcomes, results, or grades, but what truly is success if not for the journey? Graduating from school may be the trophy, but the path to that point and the obstacles overcome are the real achievement. The sweat, blood, and tears that go into the recipe for success and the lessons learned along the way are the real measure of victory.

The Katherine Thomas School, located in Rockville, Maryland, is a non-public school for individuals with language-based learning disabilities. Their staff is made up of experts including Master’s level educators, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and social workers. These professionals come together every day to provide the best opportunities for learning and achievement for their students. Rhona Schwartz, Director of The Katherine Thomas High School, provided some key insights into the recipe for success that play a part in her students’ journeys through school.

Madeline's perspective on attainment and identity

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

This question is asked to kids everywhere and to teens in their senior year of high school. Even now, in my last year of college, that one question still haunts me. It haunts everyone.

Chase's Graduation - CLE

While graduation festivities for 2015 have come and gone, it is never too early to think about preparing for graduation. Here are the top five things you need to know for successful graduation planning.

Stephanie Martin, President CLE

The core of CLE’s mission is to foster independence in the remarkable young adults we work alongside. Our services are individually tailored around the students’ needs and interests which allows our team to ‘Meet You Where Are.’ We pride ourselves in adapting our supports around the varying interests of students and the paths they desire to pursue.

From an academic standpoint, we have students pursuing 4-year degrees all the way to certificates in industries and fields they find meaningful to their growth and development. Last year, CLE had the pleasure of celebrating the accomplishments of students including: 13 students transferred to a 4-Year university; 16 students received an Associates or Bachelor’s Degree; 19 students earned certificates in their course of study; and 13 students received honors.

The post Success is Relative: CLE Staff and Students Share what Success Means to Them appeared first on College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future.