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Written by Trish Turner

Being a Personalized Education Coach (PEC) at CMASAS is a very rewarding job. I have the privilege of working one-on-one with students each week to plan and enroll in courses, check in on progress, set short and long-term goals, help advocate when needed, and generally help them to become independent, fully-functioning, self-aware, self-advocating masters of themselves. I like to think of it as being their “guide at the side.” 

This, in itself, is all very rewarding. But none of it compares to the deep, meaningful connections I am able to make with students and their families over the years that I am with them. I’m by their side through joy and sorrow, setbacks and personal triumphs. I get to share in the chaos of a move, shifts within the family, international travels; the excitement of a new driver’s license, first job, new pet, first real acting gig, rebuilt motor, tennis tournament win, academic triumph, scholarship award, or college acceptance. I share in the pain of mental and physical health struggles, new diagnoses, endless doctor’s appointments, learning difficulties, losing a loved one. 

For some students this may be the first time they have had a positive, meaningful relationship with a non-familial adult. It may be the first time they have felt a sense of agency or realized that education can be shaped to fit them, rather than feeling like they need to conform to a rigid educational system. It may be the first time they are able to feel pride in or true acceptance of their uniqueness, and that they are not only enough, but a perfect version of themselves. To be able to witness each of my students’ personal growth over the years is incredible.


To finally get the chance to meet my students and their families in the flesh at graduation after years of virtual meetings is amazing. It’s so fun to see them meeting some of their instructors for the first time in person, talking and laughing with the other graduates, and snapping pictures with their proud parents. I know the struggles and victories they’ve been through to get to that graduation stage: the late nights, the tears, busy days of juggling school with other activities, the satisfaction of working through a particularly tough assignment or course, and the pride at having persevered. I think about the many good chats we’ve had over the years, and fun times we’ve had in homeroom and club meetings. Mostly, though, I get to reflect on how far they’ve come in every possible way, and all that they now have to offer the world.  

Finally, after all of this, their time at CMASAS is done; I invariably get a bit teary when it is time to say goodbye. These young people I’ve had the privilege to get to know are amazing; it is so gratifying to know I’ve played a part in shaping their lives and preparing them for the road ahead.