MAC teacher shares experience finding a profession she loves
Support year-end fundraising goal of staff retention
by Julie Asamoto, Room 16 teacher
Shortly after my initial hire at Morgan Autism Center in January 1995, I came to the realization that I had found something truly special. I had found a profession that I loved, something that I believed I was meant to do. I felt very fortunate. I worked in three classrooms during six years, and then left in August 2000 to join the circus — true story.
I am a traveller and adventurist at heart, and live for challenge and new experiences. Each vacation, I look forward to a planned road trip, or traveling to another state or country. When Cirque du Soleil came through town at the beginning of 2000, I ended up meeting the father of my child and touring the country for two-and-a-half years. After the tour, we settled and he worked a permanent show in Orlando, then one in Vegas.
I worked in autism-specific classrooms in the public school systems in both areas, but returned each year to visit my family at Morgan Autism Center. When I finally returned to the Bay Area at the end of 2009, I began work at a MAC-supported program for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. All were good experiences, but all reminded me of what I had and what I yearned to go back to. Once a position opened up and then Executive Director Jennifer Sullivan gave me the OK, I very happily returned to my home school Aug. 22, 2011.
I have not once regretted my decision to return. I have been working with the most amazing students and co-workers each and every day in a completely supportive and nurturing environment. No two days are the same and, very often, things are extremely chaotic and intense. This job is emotionally and physically draining, and there is A LOT of paperwork. Learning how to effectively manage and lead staff is one of the most daunting obstacles for me, a responsibility I did not consider when entering the field of education. Despite these challenges, I get to laugh every day, I get to have fun and I get to share very special moments with my co-workers.
I am working for the first time with older students, and figuring out how to best prepare them for the transition to an adult program. It’s a new challenge and I love it! There is a lot of trial and error and it is a continual work in progress. The best part is I am not alone in this endeavor. I could not do this without the support of a most amazing team in Room 16, the advice and encouragement of my colleagues, the direction of administration, and the level of trust and communication we have with the families we serve. It is a true collaborative effort that I am very proud to be a part of. Morgan Autism Center is my home away from home. It is somewhere I feel I can effectively use my skills, and somewhere I belong.
Julie Asamoto is one of eight teachers at Morgan Autism Center. This year we have two big priorities for our year-end fundraising goals, including technology and staff development and retention. Designed to “nurture the nurturers,” staff retention and appreciation ensures that the educators at MAC have the tools and resources they need to support students and adult clients. Pledge today. It is easy and your donation is tax deductible. Visit www.morgancenter.org or call (408) 241-8161 to do so.