Meet 007 and Wonder Woman. That’s what their students call them. Here at the MCESC you might know this dynamic duo as Dana Saddler and Cheryl Miller. These two are the perfect tandem to reach kids with sometimes unimaginable barriers around them.
Saddler is the lead teacher in our Changes classroom at Beckett Springs in Centerville and Miller is the Educational Assistant. These two classroom stalwarts have their work cut out for them day in and day out. Their students are K through 12 and have an array of social and emotional challenges such as depression, aggression, or cognitive delays.
The students attend class for an hour and a half a day. Some students come from local districts while others are enrolled in online schools. A typical day for a student at Changes is four therapy groups, forty-five minutes each, with their same age peers and ninety minutes in the classroom with Saddler and Miller.
There are currently two groups, child and adolescent, with no more than ten students in a class. Simply stated, Saddler and Miller love them, calm them, teach them and then help them to rotate back into their home district when the time is right with whatever resources they might need.
“Bonding is crucial to what we do here,” Saddler said. "Making that authentic connection is so important otherwise you will have a really hard time getting them to trust you."
Miller adds,"Together we each bring a different perspective and personality to win them over. It’s not easy but we are persuasive and relentless!”
In their classroom, there is calm lighting, therapeutic music, aromatherapy, an assortment of fidget tools, and flexible seating which includes an inviting calming corner. While at Beckett Springs undergoing therapy, a student may become upset and ask to go to the Changes classroom. Students are encouraged through “Being Safe, Being Kind and Never Giving Up” statements which are posted around the classroom.
Saddler and Miller each bring a different approach to the table and the balance between the two works like a charm. Saddler was in the Air Force for ten years in Intel. Some of her work is top secret. “I can’t tell you or I’d have to kill you,” Saddler says laughing when about what she specifically did for the government.
Her Bachelor of Science degree is in Computer Informational Systems Management. She developed software for the Air Force before obtaining her Masters in Special Education from Antioch University McGregor.
Miller, currently ranked eighth in the state of Ohio in racquetball in women’s singles was once a high energy manager at McDonalds but knew she had a calling to work with kids. She went back to school and worked on a degree at Sinclair in Mental Health. Her six month internship with our Youth Partial Hospitalization Program (YPH) steered her down the path she was destined to follow.
“We keep each other upbeat and positive and work as a true team,” Miller said. “Plus, Jeremy Joseph, our supervisor is amazing. He understands how important mental health is to this generation.”
“He is a great leader and mentor who supports all SEL programs here. It makes our difficult job so much easier,” Saddler added. “We couldn’t ask for a better boss.
This is the second year of the program at Beckett Springs and both Saddler and Miller are making an impact. This program can and does change lives. Recently, one of their students went back to her home district after a tenuous stint at Beckett Springs, graduating early and is now at Sinclair studying to become a nurse. This is why they do what they do.
“We receive frequent updates on our former students and we even get invited to graduation parties,” Miller said smiling.
“Thank you to YPH for training us at the beginning of this program,” Saddler said. “We have some awesome people working at our MCESC locations and learning from each other is a great way to spread our experience and expertise across the county, helping people.”
Saddler, aka 007 special agent James Bond and Miller, wearing her Batman socks and called Wonder Woman by her students, might not be the Super Heroes we see on the big screen. But they are the heroes to those of us here at the MCESC who witness their work on a daily basis.
Dana Saddler and Cheryl Miller are the MCESC.