As the district’s new committee on special education director, Brenda Good is responsible for ensuring each of the more than 200 Attica students with special needs are receiving the appropriate level of support to allow them to learn and grow alongside their peers.
It’s a job that Good, who brings 18 years of experience to her new role, has been preparing for her entire adult life.
After graduating from Alexander Central School District, Good went on to attend Genesee Community College, then SUNY Geneseo, where she graduated with dual teaching certifications in elementary and special education in 2003. After that, Good worked for a couple of years as a special education teacher at Rainbow Preschool in Batavia before being hired at Oakfield-Alabama Central School District, likewise, as a special education teacher.
“I was a special education teacher there for 10 years, then I got my administrative degree at Niagara University and I accepted the position as CSE director at Oakfield-Alabama,” said Good, 40.
In 2018, she took a job with the Rochester City School District and then, in 2019, became a principal of special education for Orleans-Niagara BOCES. She started in her new role at Attica Nov. 15.
Good was selected from among a pool of highly qualified candidates following an interview process that included district administrators, faculty and members of Attica’s Board of Education, said Superintendent Bryce Thompson.
“Ms. Good has years of experience in the special education area and she has worked with students with special needs in public schools and BOCES,” continued Thompson. “These experiences will enable Ms. Good to assist our students with the greatest needs.”
Working in special education has always been Good’s chief professional goal. She views her job as one of providing a strong support system - “Not only for the kids, but for the families,” - and looks to act as a bridge between students and families and the special education system, which can often be overwhelming.
“Just understanding all the regulations and all of their rights and all of the accommodations that we can put into place - I really like to be that bridge of helping to implement those strategies in the classroom and helping families understand it so they can learn and grow along with their children,” said Good.
Since 2003, when she took her first job in special education, Good said the consensus among professionals in the field about how best to provide special education services to students has shifted.
“It used to be that students were very isolated and in separate locations, receiving instruction in a small group by themselves,” she said. “I feel like since I have started, it has really shifted toward having an inclusive model of students with special needs and general education students all learning together with the advantage of having two teachers - a special education teacher and a general education teacher.”
This approach increases parity, said Good, and helps ensure all students are receiving the quality educational experiences they’re entitled to.
“They’re being challenged more and they’re given the same education that any other student their age would be receiving, just with modifications,” she said. “It’s not like they're getting any less of an education any one else would get, they’re just receiving it with those accommodations that meet their needs and allow them to still access that general education curriculum.”
One of the chief challenges Good sees on the horizon in the coming years is helping special education students and families navigate life after high school.
“You have students with special needs that may be looking for some type of assistive living as they get older but then you have it all the way at the other end of the spectrum of students who are going to get a high school diploma and a Regents diploma and what kind of supports are available to them if they were to go to college,” she said. “I think it's really preparing students and families for post-high school and what kind of level of independence will these students have and what is their career path or vocational or assistive living path? What will their journey look like after graduating?”
And while she’s less than a month into her new role, Good said she’s looking forward to getting to know the community and working with students, families and teachers.
“It seems like they have a lot of veteran teachers here - especially in special education - that have been phenomenal so far,” she said. “So I’m just looking to continue becoming part of that team and making sure that we’re doing what's best for kids.”