Melissa Varney: Following her heart’s call

I came to New Danville five years ago when I looked for a new job after my husband and I came to the area for his job. I looked at their website and loved what I saw, especially the job opening notice for a direct support professional. It provided a way to stay in a field that I love, but in a different environment with wonderful conditions.

I have been in the special needs field for many years, something I knew I wanted to do since high school. While in Colorado, I worked in schools with students who were medically fragile or were violent/aggressive. Even after a student injured me so that I needed surgery, I could not ever see myself doing anything else for work other than working with special needs. These people are my heart.  I could see myself in a different environment though, and New Danville was it.

One of the most incredible things about New Danville is how empowered the staff is to develop the classes and programs in ways that accommodate the various ability levels of the Wranglers. No one is left behind. We are able to align our own interests and abilities with the classes we teach and how we teach them. We can use visuals, discussion and hands-on projects which provides a way of learning no matter what type of learner each Wrangler is.

I never stop thinking about the Wranglers. I seek input from family members and friends on different classes to offer and how to deliver them in ways that the Wranglers will enjoy, and benefit from. When the Wranglers leave happy, proud and have a better sense of self-worth at the end of the day…well, that’s a good day and why New Danville does what it does in the way it does it.

Early on I knew that someway, somehow, I would be in this field. And then I had a son with special needs. My work in the field has made me a better parent, I believe. If I were to cross-stitch a sampler for the wall with words of wisdom, it would say “Patience is key.”

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