Bonnie Brown, M.S.Ed
Star Factor Coach
Bonnie began her career in the now obsolete SMED department of the DOE which served students with social and emotional challenges. These schools were in hospitals, alternative to detention settings, juvenile justice facilities, self-contained buildings, community based facilities for school phobic students and psychiatric hospitals. She taught in day and residential treatment centers for schizophrenic youngsters by day and then worked at night at Rikers Island teaching GED prep to inmates.
Her initial work with students was in partnership with the Jewish Board of Family and Childrens’ Services where she was the educational director of the Infants Home of Brooklyn, a day and residential treatment facility for youngsters with severe emotional challenges. In this very clinical and supportive setting, every classroom had a psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker attached to each child’s treatment team and they supervised the teacher. Thus, her early years in Special Education gifted her with the advantage of working with doctors and clinicians that taught her about trauma, developmental milestones, treatment protocols, pharmacological interventions, etc.
It was a rare and valuable inroad to working in the field. Bonnie moved from her clinically based entry in education into DOE headquarters and ran several funded programs including one which focused on finding the appropriate educational setting for youngsters being discharged from Willowbrook State Hospital as it closed. Her work led her to learn how to triage with city government agencies like the NYC Department of Health and various city hospitals to set up partnerships. It also led her to interface with many unions and lawyers to negotiate safety measures for staff dealing with students with Hepatitis and other communicable diseases. This was the work that spurred her later on in her career to become the Director of Personnel for District 75.
In 1981, she was part of a team that opened the first DOE school for autistic students in Fresh Meadows, Queens at P.177Q. As a result of that she studied interventions such as facilitated speech, ABA and the use of assistive technology to become an expert in working with autistic youngsters. When she was Superintendent, her district served over 6600 students on the spectrum in a variety of settings and at job sites. She partnered with organizations such as Autism Speaks and GRASP to bring in and out of school services to her students and their families.
During her administrative years, Bonnie took a leave of absence from the DOE and became the middle school principal at Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York which serves boys who are court remanded and are either day or residential attendees. She supervised an in-cottage education program for students who were adjudicated sex offenders. She focused her energy in this job on working with staff to teach students strategies for self-regulation and the development of empathy and compassion for others. This commitment to change the lives of youngsters by helping them become citizens of the world eventually brought her to Yale where she has been working for the past eight years as a consultant at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Her work there is training, coaching, curriculum design and support to leaders and teachers in service of bringing social emotional learning into classrooms around the country, In recent years, she has used her own certification as a Star Factor coach which she received in 2009 to work with Superintendents, Principals and district leaders in building their own emotional intelligence skills.
M.A. in Special Education
M.S. Ed in School Administration
Member of ICF, International Coach Federation
Former education board member of NYU Child Study Center
Consultant for Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services at Child Development Center
Bonnie always liked to keep a few balls in the air and while she was working and raising her family, she also sold real estate on the Upper East and West sides of Manhattan. Today, she maintains that interest by keeping her eye on the housing market and dabbling in staging houses for sale.
What I Love About Coaching: People, people, people….I love having the opportunity and time to form a trusting relationship with someone who may have been a stranger and then to work with them to create the best version of themselves. I feel that what I learn from my clients is more than equal to the insights they achieve while I am supporting them in their journey of self-reflection. It is very exciting to see strong education leaders move from agents of change in their school communities to transformational leaders that can leverage their emotional intelligence competencies in service of creating safe harbors for their students, staff and parents. The relationships formed are very special and often supersede the coaching sessions and blossom into friendships based on collegial respect and awe.