The Caring Force is pleased to announce the July Member Spotlight honoree is Jefferey Clayton, a music teacher at Justice Resource Institute’s The Victor School.
Jefferey uses his own passion for music to help his students engage with the subject matter and use music as a form of communication. Jefferey’s colleagues are quick to notice the new-found confidence his students seem to have after taking his class. He not only helps his students gain the confidence to perform at school concerts, but he also brings his students to assisted living centers to share the joy of music with the community.
Here’s what Jefferey had to say about working in human services:
Organization: The Victor School, Justice Resource Institute (JRI)
Years in human services: 13
Best professional memory: I have so many “best” professional memories it is difficult to pinpoint just one. As a music educator to high school children with social and emotional challenges, I have witnessed numerous personal triumphs from my students. While most of my students develop a proficiency in music, their greatest achievement often appears in abilities that reflect skills rehearsed and mastered during music class. I believe music has an amazing ability to foster better social awareness and instill better emotional stability.
Two recent “best memories” that stand out in my professional career are:
Student #1: The student arrived in my high school classroom with little to no prior knowledge of music. The student was pleasant, yet hesitant, and not really interested in music. Week after week, conversations, practices and discussions would encourage the student’s appreciation and grasp of the material. He began overcoming classroom challenges, and I observed a change in his relationship with his peers as well. He was becoming an active participant and excelled very quickly within a single school year. He learned to run rehearsal sessions, can now read music, evaluate and play chords and even understand complex rhythmic patterns.
After being successful in class for one and a half years, I was proud to have him preform for our graduating class. This student is a different person in so many ways, but now carries himself with more confidence and speaks about his world experiences in a more mature and understanding way.
Student #2: I recently received a letter from a student who thanked me for the experience she had in my class. She attributed her social and emotional growth to the practices, care and high expectations I have in my classroom.
Reflecting back, she recalled how shy she “was” and how she hardly spoke unless provoked. Yet because of my encouragement, compassion and setting high expectations, she learned to overcome her fears. She now sits and engages in conversation with people and can even joke with her peers. Today she better understands how to be “open,” projects her voice, leads an ensemble and performs with confidence.
These memories are but a few of the best memories I have had while teaching at TVS. Every year and every class brings another success story worth sharing. Each student that enters my classroom affords me the opportunity to encourage and motivate them to see things differently. I am truly passionate about music and believe anyone can be a part of the “experience.”
Music is a reflection and/or inspiration of the greater picture and often allows us to have a different perspective and thus interact and interpret the world/larger communities we live. My best professional memories consist of the students whose lives I have influenced and are forever changed because of an instilled joy, passion and understanding of the “art of music.”
If you had the chance to start a new career would it still be in human services and why? (Question from Janet Kachadoorian at CRJ): Unequivocally YES! I have always been drawn to teaching children with challenges whether it be social, economic or emotional. My long-term dream is to create an arts school specifically for children with social and emotional challenges. I would use the world of music and art to transform the lives of our youth.
Question for the next member spotlight honoree: How have family/peers embraced your work in human services?
P.S. If you know someone who inspires clients and embodies the spirit of The Caring Force, please nominate them on our website or email Christine Batista at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about our Spotlight program.Back to All Blog Posts