By Brad Boardman, Executive Director
Today I made a tiny bit of space in my day to look at prior Morgan
Autism Center publications, including decades-old copies of the newsletters we published over the years. While the format of the Newsletter has gone through many permutations, the substance always shines the light on our students, clients and the meaningful growth and learning that takes place here at Morgan Autism Center. One of the articles we unearthed was written by founder, Louise Emerson. The story was a fun re-telling of the genesis of the Center. In that story, Louise referred to herself and the first teachers as a band of “hippies.” The unconventionality of the hippie mindset was conjured beautifully in her story. And it’s true, our programming, our view of off task behavior, our drive to find student interests and strengths, our unwavering belief that all students can learn were all very unconventional back in the late sixties. While, there aren’t too many hippies around anymore (at least the bead wearing ones), that spirit is still the foundation of the work we do.
Yes, in all the best ways, nothing has changed at Morgan Autism Center. Our philosophy that “happy individuals will do the very best they can,” has never been more true or more evident. Step on our campus and you will see people who are engaged, smiling, doing meaningful work, communicating in new ways and feeling a part of the community. We are still at the forefront of thought and best practices when it comes to programming and community engagement. Our staff truly understands autism and behavior. In order to make everyone’s (staff, students and clients) experience a positive one, we must make a cultural decision to cooperate, make work fun, view behavior differently, and support one another.
So…nothing new here. Oh, except one thing: Morgan Autism Center now has its very own, permanent home in Willow Glen. This may seem like a departure from the wandering hippie lifestyle we have lived prior to this (moving 5 times over the course of our history). It’s a conventional move, it’s true, but sometimes convention is a stabilizing force. Morgan Autism Center has never had a permanent home. This fact has been a source of worry to each of our Executive Directors, parents, clients, students and staff for the entirety of our existence. In fact, I remember a very scary time in our history when former Executive Director Jennifer Sullivan spent most of her waking hours roaming the streets and tracking down leads on a new site due to the surprise news that our school would be reclaimed by the district.
Our students, clients, staff and families deserve to have the stability of a permanent address. The security that comes from knowing we will have a permanent home will alleviate anxiety across the board, and alleviating anxiety is one of the things that quality autism programming should aim to deliver. The school site in Willow Glen is perfectly suited to our needs and is situated in the center of the community in a quiet neighborhood with plenty of outdoor space and even access to the Los Gatos Creek trail. And… there is potential for the Center to expand services in the coming years. The effort to get here spanned over twenty years and started with Jennifer Sullivan. Many supporters, parents, staff and the larger community contributed to the search. We are very appreciative for all the support we have had over the years and hope you will
continue to follow us on our journey.