Special Education Director
Justin Halton is the Special Education Director at the Judge Rotenberg Center. The history teacher has been with the center for 12 years and works with up to fifty students.
Classroom settings at JRC are different than other schools. Open 365 days a year, teachers grade students in non-traditional ways. In some cases, a student’s performance is graded on how well they tolerate being in class and not showing aggressive behavior. A motivating factor for many students comes with earning academic money, which they receive when performing well in class. Students can use that reward for their own personal use such as food, shopping along The Yellow Brick Road or sending home to their families.
Referring to JRC as “unique,” Halton, a Marine veteran stresses the importance of building genuine connections with students. Just like with any role at JRC, understanding each student is key to success.
When it comes to teaching lessons in front of a class, Halton dedicates much of his time deconstructing traditional history books and adapting his teaching method based on each student’s needs, making it easy for them to digest the information and learn.
“You still have to make sure a student is receiving the instruction needed that is going to meet whatever their education plan is,” Halton explains. Giving every student a chance, there are occasions where a student will play the role as a teacher and lead the class under supervision.
Many families live far away from the center, some even across the country. Regularly communicating with families, Halton and other teachers receive critiques, positive feedback and questions. As far as feedback from parents and guardians, Halton suggests “I would like to see more. It would be great and I would encourage it too.”
In a position to bring on new hires, Halton reminds employees in addition to teaching academics, “there are also behavioral, social, emotional learners here. you’re helping someone grow as an overall individual,” he says. Halton also advises his fellow teachers to think outside of the box.
Halton has worked for the center for over a decade but the job still feels new to him. “There’s been plenty of movement, keeping things fresh, new opportunities for making new impacts and new lives that have kept me going.”