This post is written by Jacob Smith, a paraprofessional at Chaddock School. He enjoys drawing and video editing in his spare time.
As someone who is originally from Quincy, I had heard of Chaddock but like most people in the area I was entirely unaware of what the place was. If I was asked when I was little, I would have told you that Chaddock was the group of buildings near the park I liked to play in. If asked as a teenager, I likely would have said someone told me “it’s where misbehaving kids go.” While I wasn’t technically wrong with those answers I was pretty far from being correct; Chaddock is so much more than a group of buildings near the park, and the children that go there are so much more than just misbehaving kids.
As an adult I was reintroduced to Chaddock by my best buddy at the time. He worked as a youth worker at one of the boy’s cottages on campus. Over time I grew a basic understanding of what kind of organization it was. Before Chaddock, he sold cars. A job he framed as “talking people into spending way more money than they should on things that they’ll never need.” It wasn’t something he could take any pride in. After starting at Chaddock it became clear just from the way he would speak about his day, even the toughest ones, that his time and efforts didn’t feel wasted. His day was spent doing something worthwhile and he could feel accomplished for that. I was working at a local sports facility as a mechanic, and while I did enjoy aspects of my job I certainly didn’t feel as though what I did actively made the world a better place. When the opportunity presented itself to apply somewhere that makes a real difference I took the chance – and now it would be a massive understatement to say that this is my favorite job that I’ve had.
So many of the kids we see have dealt with things no one should have to deal with. These kids have either developed a form of attachment issue or undergone some sort of trauma, or both, so yes – a fair amount of them “misbehave.” Chaddock recognizes these behaviors as symptoms of a bigger issue and recognizes the fact that the kids that exhibit these behaviors just need the right approach and support to overcome them. I am ever grateful that my day to day life consists of proactively doing exactly that.
The first thing I noticed when working with the kids at Chaddock is that they find it so genuinely refreshing if you treat them like a regular kid. Some of our kids believe deeply that adults do not want to listen to them so I love it when a student feels connected enough to excitedly tell me all about any topic they are passionate about. After working here I can’t imagine being satisfied in another sort of job. My day consists of modeling healthy behaviors, defusing tense situations with humor and empathy, reaffirming positive outlooks and doing everything I can to instill the idea in these kids that no matter how insurmountable an obstacle looks, they have it within themselves to get to the other side of it. Ask any of my friends about my job and they’ll politely ask you to not bring it up because they’ve already heard me go on and on about how much I love it.
Chaddock truly believes that every child deserves a chance. It’s not only our motto, but our mission and I take immense pride in living it out on a daily basis.
This op-ed was written by Jacob Smith, a paraprofessional at Chaddock School
When we talk about an “attachment issue” we are referring to the symptoms that can occur as the result of disrupted relationships and complex trauma experienced by a child during their early years of life. The term “reactive attachment disorder” (RAD) is often thrown around (many times incorrectly), and there are numerous misunderstandings associated with this rare diagnosis. In her article “I think my child has attachment problems! Now what?” Karen Doyle Buckwalter, LCSW, RPT-S provides clarification on RAD and why it’s important for families to read about and understand complex trauma and developmental trauma disorder when they feel their child may be presenting with attachment difficulties.