Josh Keehn '20 on the Gift of a Simmons Education

March 31, 2017

Josh Keehn

Josh is speaking at the Scholarship Appreciation Brunch!

What program are you in at Simmons?

I'm receiving my MS in education with a focus in moderate disabilities, as well as a license to teach students with moderate disabilities in grades 5-12.

What made you make the move to come to Simmons?

I actually received a license to teach high school English during my undergraduate career. After my undergrad I started working as an instructional assistant, which made me realize my passion for special education, and I started looking for an opportunity to diversify and solidify my teaching skills by pursuing a graduate education. I knew that Simmons would push me to become an excellent teacher.

What's your favorite part of your program?

Every course is practical. Most of the graduate students in education are practicing educators, and every course I've taken has given me tools that I have brought directly into my work. It’s not just about preparing me for what comes next, but about helping me become a better teacher right now.

How is Simmons helping to prepare you for your career?

Special Education is a field that requires learning a lot of pedagogy, to be sure, but also psychology, linguistics, behavior theory, technology and law. The Simmons course of study has either introduced or reinforced these areas of expertise as well as brought me into a robust network of experienced educators and administrators to help me move forward into the next stage of my career.

What type of work do you do outside of your program at Simmons? 

I am an instructional assistant, working with individuals or small groups of high school students with Autism in public schools. I work to modify curricula or assignments to help students access the content of their classes, but the majority of my day-to-day work is providing emotional and behavioral support to help students integrate into the general education population.

How did your life change when you received your Simmons scholarship?

The scholarship was an incredibly moving affirmation of the strength of a group of people working towards a common goal. As soon as I was notified of my scholarship, I realized that I now hold a debt – not to the incredibly generous donors who have given me the opportunity to attend Simmons, but to the future generations of students with disabilities who I will be able to support during my career. Having the incredible gift of a Simmons education also bestows on me the responsibility to use that education to help others.

What's the topic of your speech at the Scholarship Appreciation Brunch?

My responsibility to use every opportunity to become an excellent teacher. The scholarship was an opportunity to receive an education that has been neither quick nor easy, and that’s exactly what I wanted. When you work with children’s futures, you owe it to them to not take the easy way out. 

What's your Simmons moment?

I had an appointment on campus one evening and went right from work, spending most of the afternoon on campus drinking coffee, catching up on emails and finishing some homework. During the two or three hours that I was sitting at a table, I ran into three different faculty members I had worked with, all of whom took a moment to sit with me and check on how my coursework and job applications were progressing. 

It was a touching reminder of the support network that I am lucky enough to have at Simmons, and a reinforcement of the idea that the work I do in the classroom is only a small portion of the benefits of my time here. The connections I am making with peers and instructors will remain with me for years.