Kevin Forrand has worked at The New England Center for Children for 14 years as an instructor within the Adaptive Physical Education (APE) and Aquatics departments. He also has another important job: playing Santa for NECC students during the holidays. A colleague nominated Forrand because “he is always willing to lend an extra hand and make sure our entire team stays active! Kevin comes to work with a positive attitude and leaves the students feeling accomplished!”
What are your duties/what is a typical day like working with the students in APE/OT?
A typical day for me within the APE/Aquatics department is either running a gym class with my Parker Road/Westborough 1/Higley Road triad or assisting in one of my co-APE instructors’ classes. Normally, we would also have the pool open so we could run swim lessons; we hope to have the pool open again soon to resume swim classes. Some of our duties outside of leading APE and Aquatics classes are to assess students on our case load and write objectives for their IEPs. We also coach a variety of Special Olympic sports.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part outside of the students and the wonderful staff that I have met, is that I get to swim and run around the gym for a living. It is always fun to see the smiles on the students’ faces when you teach them a new skill and when they get to just have fun and play in the water. It makes working here so special.
Why did you choose a career in helping children with autism?
I always say that I did not choose this field or working with children with autism; it chose me. While at Bridgewater State University for my undergrad, I saw a pull-tab job opportunity—yes, I am that old that there were pull tabs for jobs—to work at a school for students with special needs. I worked there for eight years before coming to work at NECC.
I applied to NECC when they built the pool and expanded the APE department. I always knew that I wanted to continue in the field of special education but wanted to shift my focus to the APE side. When I saw the opening posted online, I decided to apply, and here we are 14 years later. It is still my best career move.
How many years have you played Santa at NECC? How come you volunteer for the job?
I played Santa for three years before taking a few years off, then returned this past year. When I was first asked, I had to say no because my son was in the preschool, and he would have known it was me. A few years after he left, they re-approached me. Anyone who knows me knows I have trouble saying no when it comes to helping NECC and the students. It brings so much joy to the students and staff.
Have you taken advantage of any of the grad programs or teacher training at NECC?
I did not do the NECC graduate programs, but I did get two degrees while at NECC. I took advantage of their generosity through the tuition reimbursement programs in helping me to afford them. I got my master’s degree in athletic administration and my doctorate in educational leadership.
What is something about you that your colleagues might be surprised to learn?
Nobody outside of my office knows this, but I was named Athlete of the Year at Becker Junior College in 1995. If people do not believe it, there is a plaque in the lifeguard office.
Who is someone you look up to?
There are two people who I look up to: my dad for giving me the work ethic that I have, and my girlfriend for being a single mother of two while working full time. She impresses me daily.
What is your life philosophy or a motto you like to live by?
I did not have a motto that I lived by until recently. I lost my dog about two weeks ago and when someone says a dog is a man’s best friend, they are not kidding. No matter how bad a day you have, they are happy to see you. So, I came up with what I like to call the Molly motto: “Only surround yourself with people who get excited when you enter a room.”