Grafton Administrator to Showcase Program

May 24, 2007

By Jessica J. Burchard
May 24, 2007

What began as a part-time college job has become a career for Kim Sanders. At 19, Sanders began working at the Grafton Schools Inc. facility in Berryville. She’s continued to work for the school while earning
a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

“It started out as a job for college to make money,” she said. “But I’ve found I can’t leave.”

When she began working at Grafton, Sanders was part of the direct care staff. She served in this capacity for several years before being promoted to administration.

She is now the executive director for Grafton’ s Winchester region. The position was offered to her five years ago.

This July, Sanders will showcase one of the programs she has spearheaded for Grafton. She and five other Grafton employees will present a paper on “physical-restraint free” environment at the Autism Society of America’s 38th National Conference and Exposition. The conference is from July 11 – 14 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“I attended the Autism Society’s conference for the last two years with people who were doing the same things as we were,” she said. “I couldn’t help but think, why aren’t we talking about it.”

Since 2004, the school has embraced a move to limit the use of physical restraints and teach staff alternative methods of working with violent clients.

Sanders spoke with James G. Gaynor, chief executive officer of Grafton, about presenting a paper. Gaynor was completely supportive. “Kim is the poster child for humility in strategic leadership,” Gaynor said. “She clearly knows when something is worth embracing. Then, she’s able to engage people around her.”

Sanders’ idea of a “physical-restraint free” environment is based on seven steps. She considers planning, communication, training alternative strategies to be necessary for success.