Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Interview with Bryan Cassin, MDUSD Occupational Therapy Manager

Could you please describe your job and responsibilities?
First and foremost I am a service provider. I provide Occupational Therapy assessments, treatments, consultations and observations district-wide. In addition, I am in charge of supervising all Occupational/Physical Therapy staff including billing/contracts and record keeping, scheduling of caseloads, and employee evaluations. Some of my other duties include ordering of student specific equipment, assistance with alternative dispute cases, and coordinating services with other local agencies e.g. County Children’s Services and Non-Public Schools/Agencies. I serve on various groups and committees such as the Autism Task Force, Quality Indicators of Assistive Technology, Special Education Management Team, Extended Education Services, and of course our CAC. I am especially excited to be a District leader on the Special Education Self Review Team as well as the Encore Student Information System.

What inspired you to work in this profession?
As a child growing up I always wanted to work in the medical profession and planned on becoming a doctor. My father was a social worker for the state of Pennsylvania and I always admired his compassion and empathy for those that were less fortunate, and could see the personal satisfaction that came from helping those that are in need. After starting on a pre-med/pharmacy track at the University of Pittsburgh, I started to realize that all of my favorite coursework was in the area of Psychology. After visiting an open house at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, I discovered the field of Occupational Therapy. I felt that it was an interesting combination of Psychology and Medicine. Soon after, I started to do volunteer work in Western Pennsylvania Hospital’s Occupational Therapy Department. I knew then that O.T. was the career for me!

What is your professional goal?
My professional goal currently is to work toward my administrative credential. This will allow me to take on additional tasks and responsibilities in the future. My other professional goals are in the areas of program development for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. I think that we have made great strides in recent years with the improvement of our autism specific classrooms, extended school year program, and social skills programs. However more work needs to be done in these areas. I am a big believer that we can continue to improve these programs in a cost effective manner. We want our parents to know that the District is listening to their feedback and will continue to be proactive in improving our programs.

What do you like best about your job?
My favorite part of the position is that I get to serve the District’s Central Office as well as the individual school sites. Prior to my current position, I contracted with Mt. Diablo and worked at many of the schools. I was able to build lasting relationships with many of our teachers, parents, and other school site staff. I am always amazed by how many of our students that I have worked with previously or currently and really feel a sense of community with our District’s families. Because my family lives on the East Coast, the Mt. Diablo community really is like my second family. I will always be appreciative of this opportunity.

If you could change anything about your job or services you provide, what would it be?
I would like to continue to build additional internal capacity in the areas of Occupational and Physical Therapy as well as other District programs. We have already started this process and I feel that we have the support of the Board of Education to continue in the future. Although Non-Public Schools and Agencies play a critical role, I believe that our District can continue to build its own programs and find skilled practitioners. Because of the current budget situation, California school districts have to be innovative to maximize their dollars and this is definitely an area that we are focused on as a district.
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