"I've never had a job where you actually get up in the morning and you like going to work."
A former truck driver, Don decided to begin a new career in his mid thirties and admits getting back into the swing of school was challenging. "When they told me class notes were available on Blackboard – I literally thought they meant a chalk board," Don recalls. "Deciding to start the program was a big decision but it was the right one."
Having limited experience on a computer and no postsecondary experience, his growth as a student and a person was transformative. Today, Don is employed with the Lambton Kent District School Board working with students who have needs which require extra help and special attention.
"I've worked with kids from JK/SK to high school and they all need the same thing: Someone who can help them cope with school work, social skills and life skills, and that is what we, as DSWs, do."
Don works alongside 6 other DSWs in his school and insists there is a need for more. "It's something I am advocating for," Don says. "I think there is a big job market for grads who take the program. There is plenty of need out there – whether it's the school system, group homes, or retirement homes there are jobs out there."
Don recommends the program to anyone who would like to make a difference in someone's life. "That is what a DSW does. We make huge differences in people's lives, just using compassion, patience, genuineness, empathy and all the skills the school teaches us. Looking back, I wish I had taken this program 20 years ago"
For Don, being a DSW is more than just a pay cheque. He is passionate about his career and the rewards are many. "I always have a feeling of making a difference in someone's life, every day. The appreciation you get from those who you have helped is unbelievable. It could be a thank you or just a smile."
With a new career he loves and a work environment in his field which is both rewarding and challenging, Don still draws on his experiences at St. Clair College as he works with students. "There are many things I have taken from what I learned in the program, whether it's a lesson or words of advice, I use my education daily. Advice I would give to a person considering the program? DO IT! I wish I had, 20 years ago! Even a bad day is a good day. I love being a DSW."