Don Bergeron (pictured right) participating in the Annual Miles for Smiles 5k Race to raise funds for dental care for adults with disabilities. The 2017 Miles for Smiles 5K is Saturday, June 10 in Plymouth.

A couple of years ago, Lakes Region Community Services partnered with College for America to offer a flexible way for selected employees to complete an associate’s degree. A program of Southern New Hampshire University, CfA is an innovative, competency-based program designed for working adults to attain a college degree.

Gentle Teaching Specialist Don Bergeron is the first LRCS employee to complete his associate’s degree in business general studies through CfA. “College for America was great for me. I would not have gone back to school at my age on my own,” said Bergeron. “But once I learned about the program and opportunity it really made sense for me and my situation.”

Gentle Teaching, Don’s area of expertise, is a way of supporting people who don’t always feel safe and connected with others. Don is a key resource when it comes to working with families and individuals and training and mentoring direct support staff in the principles of Gentle Teaching.

The work Don does is core to the way LRCS supports people and embodies our mission – ‘Dedicated to Serving the Community by Promoting Independence, Dignity and Opportunity, said President and CEO Rebecca Bryant. “The wealth of experience Don brings is not easily replicated. The College for America program provided a pathway for Don to earn a college degree while continuing his important work at LRCS.”

After graduating from high school, Don attended college for two years, pursuing an Education and English major. He then left college and eventually got a job at the Laconia State School working with people with disabilities. Eventually he and an associate started their own business, providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The business contracted with LRCS, and when he and his partner decided to sell their business eight years ago, Don accepted a position with LRCS.

Don completed his associate’s degree in just a little more than two years. With this program, he was able to participate remotely, on his time schedule, utilizing online tools and Skype. “The program has been both challenging and enjoyable. It helped me to learn for (and about) myself, rather than to teach and mentor others. The experience has made me a better learner and a better teacher.”

LRCS is committed to assisting its employees in a variety of ways to enhance their education, training and skills development to strengthen team capacity and work toward continual improvement of programs and services.  CfA is one option that LRCS provides to qualifying employees to further their education and professional development.

 

Comments, questions, and ideas for future blog posts can be sent to: Joanne Piper Lang, LRCS Director of Development and PR at joanne.lang@lrcs.org