Position: Project SEARCH Instructor
School: West Bloomfield School District
School District: West Bloomfield School District
City, State: West Bloomfield, MI
Music that Describes Leah
Leah Mattise was nominated by her colleague, Andrea Voorheis.
Mrs. Mattise makes a beneficial difference in the lives of students, their families and the colleagues who work with her on a daily basis. She has been a highly effective educator for 26 years. Her out-of-the-box, innovative thinking has inspired students to see themselves for the abilities they have to offer, not their disabilities.
Mrs. Mattise is currently in her second year as the Project SEARCH instructor at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. She helps young adults* with disabilities acquire independent work skills while being immersed in the daily routines of the various hospital departments. The multitude of skills taught is enormous. Her goal is to help students acquire a competitive employment position within their community. The hospital is used as the teaching point to acquire these skills. In her second year as the Project SEARCH instructor, she has already increased the number of internship opportunities within the hospital, improved relationships, provided a face for Project SEARCH at the hospital, and increased student opportunity for employment.
Mrs. Mattise has adapted Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to create a foundational training base and consistent language for the interns to begin using and understanding. Providing this concrete framework for the interns has encouraged them to be more responsible and to live as people of influence. Mrs. Mattise models what it means to live as a person of influence each day. She truly brings joy, a wonderful sense of humor, the gifts of empathy and compassion, and an embracing expectation of excellence. She sets the bar high for all who work with her, both students and staff, but it is set to learn and grow. The student interns listen to her because she is genuine and lives the habits through her interactions with them and others. Because of their trust and relationship with her, the interns are excelling in their rotations at the hospital as they learn and acquire work, social and independent skills. The student intern parents and previous teachers have expressed their amazement in the growth of the students within their time at Project SEARCH with Mrs. Mattise.
Mrs. Mattise previously taught students on the autism spectrum in a self-contained classroom. Her classroom expanded to include the whole building. Mrs. Mattise believed in developing the leadership skills in staff and students at Sheiko Elementary. She wrote and received a $50,000 grant for Sheiko to become a Leader in Me School.
"I learned of this feat from the building principal, when I was working with a client in this building over the summer," said Voorheis. "Leah is so humble. Education is truly her vocation, and she walks the walk of integrity, compassion, problem-solving, and change-making while including everyone to join her at the table."
Mrs. Mattise presents the idea of change in such a subtle manner (but with input from all involved) that whether she's working with a student, staff, parent or coworker, the paradigm shift occurs for the better and with a more productive result. You know when she's around because of her presence of light she brings when entering a room. She is quiet and unobtrusive, but her calm demeanor and positivity are infectious.
Mrs. Mattise shares her dedication and committment within her community, primarily in her faith community as a teacher, teen youth group volunteer, Advent By Candlelight Committee member, speaker, and service coordinator. Her dedication was evident when she returned back to school to learn more about her faith. She was very active in the Oakland Youth Orchestra as the President and orchestra manager a few years ago.
"Leah will never realize the never ending ripple effect, of the lives she has and continues to change. She is a LifeChanger," said Voorheis. "She inspires others to become better as human beings, to share their gift of time, to share their smile, and to assume positive intent."
Side note - in the state of Michigan, students with an IEP who have not received their HS Diploma or equivalent can remain in the public school setting until the age of 26.