Northwest Technical Center
Jim Naylor, the Cooperative Education Coordinator at the Northwest Technical Center in St. Albans and a staunch Grateful Dead aficionado, has been involved in work-based learning with students for the past 28 years. Naylor, who carries a special education endorsement and previously served as a BFA employment specialist, now focuses on placing students in work-based learning positions in the greater community. “My heart sings the most when I am helping students build self-esteem,” he said. “As well, I am here and ready to help all students prepare their resumes, including students post-graduation.”
According to colleague, Lynn Bouchard, Naylor’s mantra is “no matter what, keep smiling.” “Students constantly come by to visit with him and he always greets them with a smile,” she said. We witnessed this firsthand when he introduced us to a group of high school students involved in cleaning the kitchen. He engaged with every student, providing praise and helping them share their strengths with us in a fun-loving manner.
Naylor is passionate about Special Olympics and serves as the school’s coach for the Unified Sports program, an inclusive sports program that combines an approximately equal number of Special Olympics athletes and partners without intellectual disabilities on teams for training and competition. He participates in the annual frosty Penguin Plunge in Lake Champlain to raise funds for Vermont Special Olympics. “I want to spread the word to get rid of the “R” word,” he said.
Outside of the workplace Naylor has a slew of activities that keep him rocking. “I am an avid golfer and Nordic skier. I consider the outdoors my church,” he said which he said was further cemented as a result of participating in an Outward Bound program on Hurricane Island as a teenager. “And canoeing on the Allagash waterway is absolutely the best. He makes his own pasta and bread and plants and maintains a garden each year. His most recent endeavors - “Since I am now 51, I decided to take up the electric guitar and to grow my hair long,” he said as he proudly displayed his ponytail and said, “Rock On.”