Crittenton Services' Educator Honored by State Association | Crittenton Services, Inc.
Crittenton Services' Educator Honored by State Association
Crittenton Services President and CEO Kathy Szafran (left) with Crittenton teacher Jan Bragg and her plaque denoting her Child Care Worker of the Year from the
West Virginia Child Care Association.
A Wheeling classroom specialist dedicated to helping at-risk students was recognized by a state association for extraordinary work despite her own life-threatening
challenges. Crittenton Services' alternative school instructor Jan Bragg recently won the honor of Child Care Worker of the Year at the West Virginia Child Care
Association's (WVCCA) Fall Conference held in Charleston. Adjudicated by a panel of behavioral health professionals who are not members of the state association,
the distinction was awarded following her nomination by Crittenton's vice president of residential services, Tracee Chambers. A seven-year veteran of Crittenton's
on-site alternative school in Elm Grove, the energetic and enthusiastic educator specializes in helping teenage girls with traumatic life circumstances complete
their educations and embark on a life of self-sufficiency. While continuing to work to help these young women transcend their enormous challenges, Bragg developed
a crisis of her own.
She learned that the over-the-counter medications she had been taking at the suggestion of her physician had irreparably damaged her kidneys. Diagnosed with end
stage renal failure, she began dialysis three times a week at the beginning of the school year last year. She had some complications along the way, including
infections at the site of her catheter in her arm, and the collapse of veins resulted in the need for a central line in her neck. "Throughout this, she showed
up with a smile on her face and wearing a turtle neck sweater," noted Chambers. "She focused on her students, doing her job and always, a little extra."
While Bragg's positive attitude belied the seriousness of her condition, Chambers admitted that she was deeply concerned about Bragg's prospects for recovery. "Her
name was placed on the organ donation registry," Chambers said, "but finding an appropriate donor was a longshot." In August, Bragg received a call at 4:30 a.m.
from a Columbus hospital. A donor kidney had been found. She was immediately rushed into surgery. "It was a perfect match," Chambers said. "She is recovering well
and we are hopeful that she will return to the classroom after the holidays."
While still highly vulnerable to infections, Bragg was granted special permission by her physician to travel to Charleston to receive the award. "I am thrilled and
humbled by this recognition," she said. "I just love working with these girls and knowing that I can help to make a real difference in their lives. What a beautiful
privilege it is to be honored for doing something I love."
Chambers is justifiably proud of Crittenton's alternative school and Bragg's accomplishments there. "Keep in mind, the students in our school are often victims of
abuse and neglect. For the most part, they have never had any academic success, given their incredible life challenges," she said. "But last year, two of our girls
completed almost two full years of work in one year. By the end of last school year, 100% of the girls in the classroom were on target to meet their educational
goals. Jan is largely responsible for that success, and she managed to do that while fighting for her own life. Not only that, but she did it cheerfully, earning
the respect and love of her students."
Crittenton Services is a private, non-profit treatment organization that has been serving residents of West Virginia and surrounding areas for 114 years, offering
a wide range of care and treatment for children, adolescents and families. Best known for its residential program Which was formerly known as the Florence Crittenton
Home, Crittenton remains the state's only residential maternity facility for pregnant and parenting adolescents. The gender-responsive program also serves young women
aged 12 to 18 who may not be pregnant or parenting, but have experienced abuse, neglect, emotional and behavior disabilities, substance abuse and/or delinquency.
The agency also operates a community-based behavioral health center called Wellspring Family Services in 17 counties in northern West Virginia, as well as the
Cradles to Crayons childcare facilities and an intensive educational and outpatient program for at-risk Ohio County girls.
The WVCCA represents agencies throughout the state of West Virginia that operate a wide variety of behavioral health and child welfare programs statewide for the
most vulnerable and difficult children in the state. The theme of the fall conference was "Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll." West Virginia's First Lady Gayle Manchin
delivered the keynote address, held at the Blessed John XXIII Pastoral Center in Charleston. The conference addressed issues for today's at-risk teens such as teen
sex and pregnancy, underage drinking, illegal drug use and reaching teens who live in an online world.