DSP's Making a Difference: Maggie Schmitt
As part of DSP Recognition Week, Florida ARF and FADSP are pleased to recognize direct support professionals (DSPs) who are making a meaningful difference in the lives of the people they serve. Maggie Schmitt is one of those DSPs.
Maggie is employed with Brevard Achievement Center (BAC) as an Education Specialist. In addition to serving as a substitute and on-demand teacher in BAC’s education department, Maggie recently was selected to launch a new program at Brevard Achievement Center: Project Dream, Wish, and Wonder. The program was created by the Brevard Achievement Center Board as a way for BAC to assist participants in their Adult Day Training and Supported Living programs with making a life-long dream come true.
Maggie quickly went to work, putting together her "Dream Team," a cross-functional group of staff that works to discover the dreams that exist and to put all the needed steps in place to turn the dreams into reality. Maggie's leadership of the effort, however, is what has made it a true success for BAC’s "dreamers."
Her laser focus on the needs, desires, and hopes of BAC participants is clear in her daily interactions with each of the people she serves. She is tenacious in making sure each dream is executed to the level each participant deserves; there are no half-hearted attempts in this program. Maggie quickly discovered that working with people with very significant disabilities often means life-long dreams are not something often discussed, and even more rarely encouraged. She spends time searching through participant plans, looking for any nugget that can be explored for a life dream. She sits with people during lunch or after class talking about what dreams are and why they are important. In short, she pays close attention to those in her care as they talk, laugh, learn, socialize, and work. The connections she creates are profound and inspirational.
Maggie has helped all of us and the people we work with know there is nothing too big for them to want and expect to have from life regardless of their unique abilities. She has helped others at BAC be better support professionals by simply following her lead. Maggie helps encourage staff to slow down, listen more carefully, and really hear how voices change when our individuals are excited about something. She enjoys seeing the individuals’ eyes light up when people think of things they may love to try. Maggie assists those we serve in determining what is important to them and what dreams they want to pursue. She always confirms that the wishes of our participants are their own, and not what staff would pick for them.
Maggie ensures that the right staff support the dream activities based on the unique needs of each person participating. Because each activity is different in scope, she spends time with each individual to be sure they are prepared. Maggie connects staff with participants ahead of the dream and makes sure individuals are comfortable. She answers all questions, confirms all safety concerns are addressed and ensures staff are well prepared.
Thank you, Maggie, for your continued service to the individuals served at Brevard Achievement Center!