Employee Spotlight: Tyler Satterfield, Teacher at Grafton’s Winchester Therapeutic Day School
“You never limit a child by their limitations, you can only move them forward by what makes them exceptional.”
Tyler Satterfield is a teacher in Grafton’s Winchester Therapeutic Day School. As a mother of a son with autism, Tyler has a unique perspective on the value Grafton can bring to families.
Why did you want to work in Behavioral Healthcare?
I was a stay-at-home mom taking care of my three sons, one of whom is autistic. During that time, I realized that I wanted to better understand the brain. So, I went back to school for psychology.
I joined Grafton as a residential instructor two and a half years ago, working with teenagers with emotional disabilities. I then transferred to Elm Street to get more experience with a broader group of clients and other disabilities.
What makes Grafton a special place to work?
Grafton gives you a lot of room to grow. I started out as a residential instructor and then, later became an instructional assistant before being encouraged in the direction of teaching. I feel like this is where I should have ended up, but I would have not made that career choice if it had not been for my supervisor pointing me in this direction.
I also love that the clients are forever changing. Being a teacher, you will never have the same client twice; they are all unique, special individuals. Clients grow up, move on and move forward. Grafton has an ever revolving door of different diagnoses and clients. It keeps you learning as you go.
What makes the Grafton approach person-centered?
Every client at Grafton has their own personal treatment plan that involves everyone on the team. It is not just one person making developing a plan; everyone’s voice is heard and taken into consideration. The client does not spend all day with just one person; their day revolves around different people and all of those perspectives should be taken into account. The person centered approach is important because it is our job to center treatment around the client’s unique needs to make them successful. I think Grafton does a good job of doing that.
I help make sure we remain person-centered by keeping everyone on the team in the loop. Everyone knows me for my emails. If there is something going on and I feel like people need to know about it, I will inform them. I will bring it up at client meetings or I will contact everyone on the team immediately, if something happens, so that all team members are informed. I do this so that later along down the line, everyone is aware of what is going on in the client’s lives so that they can better serve them.
What does a trauma-informed approach mean to you?
No matter what setting — whether it be school, home, group home, or special education class — nobody wants to feel unsafe and insecure. If a child does not feel safe and secure they cannot learn, they cannot move forward, and they cannot grow. Trauma-informed care ensures that the child remains safe, feels comfortable and secure, and is able to move forward with his or her life.
It is my job as a teacher, to make sure that every child in the classroom is always feeling safe and secure so that they can learn and progress.
What is your favorite story to tell about your time at Grafton?
I had a client for six or seven months who was getting ready to transfer the week that I was on vacation. I told him goodbye before I left, but when I came back from my trip, he was still in my classroom. I was concerned that something had happened. He told me that he had changed his discharge date because he didn’t want to say good-bye while I was away. He stayed an extra five days just to say good bye to me.
We work to build this type of relationship with all of our clients. It’s all about healthy relationships. Many of our clients have never had healthy relationships before Grafton; that’s what makes stories like this one so special.
What would you say to someone who is considering working at Grafton?
I would say to make sure that you have a lot of patience when working with children. They usually do not have emotional regulation or foresight into the future because they have never had to before. You have to have creative ideas and be prepared think outside the box. I’ve had clients who have never read at their reading level; some have never even read a book at all. They leave my class reading Of Mice and Men and are able to retain it. It builds their confidence. If this is something that you like doing and want to make a difference in people’s lives, then Grafton is the place for you.
It is important to know that Grafton is not just low functioning to high functioning. The high functioning individuals need just as much help at the low functioning. High functioning individuals will go out into the world and they need the skills that will make them successful and independent. I try to ensure that they have the skills to be successful.
You never limit a child by their limitations, you can only move them forward by what makes them exceptional.
What would you say to a family looking at Grafton for their child?
I know from my own experience that having a child with special needs is hard. We all do everything we can to keep our children at home. But families struggle and, often times, Grafton is a last resort. Sometimes it’s hard to look past your personal connection and make the choice that is best for your child.
If you think your child can benefit from Grafton, I think we can do fantastic things for your family. We have the resources and experience to help children overcome a lot and we can provide more than other facilities can.