Passionate Educator Promoted to Serve as New Executive Director of Camelot’s Therapeutic Day School of Hoffman Estates
Marisa Kaufman was a perfect fit for Camelot from the time she walked through the doors at Camelot Therapeutic Day School of Naperville in 2012. She came into the organization knowing that she would be working with kids for a long time to come, saying, “Upon graduating college I knew that working with vulnerable youth would be my career.”
Eight years later, she’s now leading the Camelot Therapeutic Day School of Hoffman Estates as executive director.
“We are all here to work together to empower and create a positive culture throughout the school,” Kaufman says of her new position. “I want to lead my team through this journey. I am also here to support them as my mentors did for me. I envision sharing in this experience of making our communities and the individuals around us better.”
Kaufman started her career working in a home learning environment, where she helped a program of 50 13-to-18-year-old children by teaching critical life skills including organization, behavior and academics. After discovering Camelot through a student she worked with, Kaufman discovered an opportunity to work as a paraprofessional at Naperville, where she found a family of mentors who helped her learn and grow in every role she worked in.
“When I came to Camelot, I found so much support from staff. Colleagues constantly provided praise and reminded me of my skills,” Kaufman says. “They helped me grow and nurture the confidence in the skills I had. That was really beneficial for me.”
This support helped Kaufman grow in numerous positions of increasing responsibility. Three months into her first assignment, she was promoted to the position of classroom counselor. She became team leader in October 2016, when she began overseeing the entire program for elementary and high school students. In March 2017, she was promoted to director of operations.
“Ms. Kaufman is such a mission-driven individual that she has shined in her different roles at the Naperville school,” says deputy superintendent Theresa Mortl-Smith. “She has exceled at every role she’s held working with our Camelot students.”
Each stage brought new challenges for Kaufman. She recalls that shortly after she became team leader, a student came to school in tears, having just learned of a loss in her immediate family. When the student fell into her arms, Kaufman realized how important it was that she and her colleagues be there for their students in every way.
As team leader, Kaufman worked with 100 students and 65 staff members. She loved the opportunity.
“The more students and staff I could interact with, the more motivating it was to me. I wanted to do more, do better, and provide support to all of them,” Kaufman says. “I came to understand that what you put into working with these kids, they will give it back to you 100 times more.”
Kaufman’s work at Naperville helped her prepare for service as executive director at Hoffman Estates.
Naperville and Hoffman Estates provide similar academic and therapeutic services for children, adolescents, and young adults, ages 3 through 21whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) requires additional support for disabilities such as emotional and behavioral needs. Programming is also provided for children with learning disabilities and children with autism spectrum disorder.
The hallmark of Camelot Education is the building and maintaining of trusted, caring, relationships between students and the adults in the building.
“Relationships are critical to our work with children, and an equally important focus with our staff,” says deputy superintendent Mortl-Smith. “Ms. Kaufman’s experience at Camelot is representative of the positive student and staff culture that we strive for.”
Her message to students is one of commitment. She is committed to being there for her students and helping to challenge them along the way.
“I am here for our students,” Kaufman adds. “I will be here every day to help them and to work with them. I will also challenge them at times; the best growth can come out of those moments. My students make me a better person, so I will always strive to make them better people as well.”
Camelot Education has tremendous faith in Kaufman.
“Ms. Kaufman’s strengths in working collaboratively with students, staff and district partners will benefit the school,” says Mortl-Smith. “She is smart and focused, a great fit to carry on the mission of Camelot and lead the Hoffman Estates campus toward great things.”