Brooke Howard has always had an interest in working with people with different life experiences and perspectives, learning about how others understand their experiences and how they navigate through their lives despite whatever challenges they may face. Today Brooke applies that knowledge and understanding as the Ivy Street School's new Transition Coordinator and Director of Related Services (which includes Speech, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy), having officially started in that role this past January.
"The role of the Transition Coordinator," she explains, "is to set up systems and support staff to ensure that students' transition needs are met as they prepare to leave Ivy Street."
Brooke has a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy from Sargent College at Boston University and a B.S. in neuroscience from Oberlin College. Before coming to Ivy Street, she worked for six years at the Franciscan Hospital for Children in both the residential inpatient program and outpatient programs, working with children with complex needs.
One of the factors that drew her to Ivy Street School in particular, Brooke explains, was "because it is small, which allows for creative, individualized approaches and a lot of flexibility in terms of how we meet the students' needs. I particularly like working with clients and families during periods of change."
|A student presents at the recent Ivy Street School Vocational Night
Brooke started at Ivy Street in 2009 as an Occupational Therapist, and since then has played a crucial role in the expansion of our transition programming throughout the school.
"We've created a transition team with the OT department and vocational department, we've hired more job coaches to support students in pursuit of community employment, we've put together a process for transition evaluations and goal-setting specifically related to transition needs, and we continue to work to engage students more specifically in their own transition process."
Under Howard's leadership, each student at the Ivy Street School is involved in their social and education planning processes and is given the space to set goals for themselves, as well as to understand and implement what is necessary to reach them.
Brooke believes in empowering students to respond as they transition and expectations are changing. "I want to continue to develop a program that helps students create a vision for themselves and their futures," she says. "I see it as our absolute responsibility to provide our students with the tools they need to not only navigate their lives with as much independence as possible but also to feel like agents of their own future."