Donna Octeau

Donna Octeau has been with the Judge Rotenberg Center for 41 years and currently serves as our Programming Director and School Supervisor.

Donna began her career at JRC in the early 1980’s when Olivia Newton-John was topping the Billboard charts and Larry Bird was bringing the Boston Celtics back to glory.

“The company was growing and when I spoke to other people and saw the way that they interacted with the students and clients at that time, and then I was like “OK, I want to do this. This is something I want to do,” she recalls.

Donna soon became the Director of Human Resources for JRC, while also raising her family. She says that the company’s willingness to help her as a staff member and as a mother allowed her to grow within the organization.  “There was support from Doctor Israel and Glenda (Crookes) to work around anything that you needed to work around.”

Donna also understood early on, the positive impact of the work being done on a daily basis at JRC.

“You could see big changes in the student’s behavior and the client’s behavior especially when we got the approval for the GED device,” she says. “so you kind of wanted to stay and be part of all of that.”

Donna is especially proud of one young woman who once had to be confined in a restraining chair because of her aggressive behavior. But thanks to the GED device, ” She (now) lives in a house with 6 other young ladies and they go out in the community all the time and she works here in supervised work in the workshop, Donna explains with a sense of pride. “She does shredding. Her job is to shred, so she shreds documents. Now she’s earning money. She goes home now. Mom and dad take her home.”

Oftentimes, Donna accompanied the students and clients during home visits, where family members were overjoyed to see their child and loved one engaging socially and participating in family activities.

Those are the Big Wins. But Donna also feels blessed to recognize the small victories for JRC students and clients.

“Sometimes it might just be getting someone to go to the APR for lunch and their behavior has improved but now they can go into this busy room and they can sit at the table and enjoy the whole social aspect

and be behavior free,” she adds.

Although JRC’s mission is complex and geared to each individual, Donna says the goals are the same.

“We focus on education for our students (many passing their GED (General Educational Development Test), and for the adults, we can hopefully transition them into the mainstream. Getting them out into the community is the goal.”

Each member of the JRC team is committed to providing a safe, nurturing environment for students and adults as well as lifting each other up through the organization’s mentoring program.

“I always tell (new employees) to use all the resources we have,” Donna says.

Those resources include immediate access to treatment teams and an open door invitation from Glenda Crookes to discuss issues and challenges and address them promptly.

What’s the best part of her job? Donna is quick to answer.

“It is the interaction with these students and clients,” she says smiling. “But it is also working with the staff and the direct care people. I really enjoy that.”