Learning, Then Working, at BOCES

August 14, 2018

Qadar Chevalier showed Transitions student Zach Malota how he can dunk a basketball.  Now the 6-foot-1-inch Zach tries to do the same every time he goes to gym class.

“Watching Zach try to dunk is my favorite part of the day,” said Qadar. “He had never done anything like that before, so it feels great seeing him trying something new and knowing that I helped with that.”
Such is the effect Qadar and fellow Fox Meadow graduate Brandon Gordon are having on students in BOCES’ Extended School Year program, where both are working this summer as one-to-one aides. Qadar assists in Stacey Chiarella’s Transitions classroom, while Brandon is next door at Pines Bridge. Both describe their jobs here at BOCES as rewarding, meaningful and enjoyable.

Each works closely with one particular student but also helps in any way needed in their respective classrooms.

The students in Chiarella’s classroom are between the ages of 17 and 20, so Qadar helps teach a variety of everyday activities that will help them as they move beyond BOCES classrooms and out into the world.

“I try to help with things like doing laundry, buckling a belt, communicating appropriately – I want to help them with these things while they are still here. It will be harder for them once they move on,” Qadar said.

Brandon, who was assigned to a much younger group of students at Pines Bridge, had to learn how to change diapers, something that gave him pause at first. “But these kids have become my kids, and I’ve grown to love them – I don’t even notice that part of the job anymore.”

“I am so proud of them,” said Chiarella, who teaches at Fox Meadow High School during the school year and at the ESY program on BOCES’ main campus during the summer. “They took the initiative to apply for these positions while they were seniors. They have done an amazing job here.”

The hard work doesn’t stop for Brandon or Qadar when the school day ends. Both head to second and even third jobs. Brandon works at a skate park and movie theater, while Qadar works for a beauty supply company.

Brandon is registered to begin classes at Rockland Community College in the fall, and Qadar is saving for college, where he hopes to pursue music production and special education.

They are only the most recent Fox Meadow graduates to join the staff at BOCES; another graduate, Shadieq Desland, works at the Walden School as a teacher aide, and Brandon McCabe, who graduated six years ago, works in the BOCES program at the Sunshine Children’s Home in Ossining as a teacher aide.

Both Qadar and Brandon said that being former BOCES students helped them to feel connected to the students they are now helping. “It’s like we are part of the same family,” said Brandon.

“Our BOCES takes extraordinary pride in the success of our graduates,” said Assistant Superintendent Lynn Allen, Ed.D. “It is particularly joyful to see first-hand how a number of our graduates are now serving as positive role models and creating pathways to success for others just as had been done for them. Their example is truly inspiring and heartwarming.”

Caption: Fox Meadow graduate Qadar Chevalier working with Transitions student Zach Malota in Stacey Chiarella’s ESY classroom this summer.