By the age of 12, Jaimie March knew she wanted to pursue a career in special education, thanks to the dual influences of her mother, Marlene, and eminent educator and author Mary MacCracken.

Her mother instilled in Jaimie the values of empathy and caring for others, while MacCracken’s memoir, “Lovey: A Very Special Child,” provided a detailed exploration of a profession in which those personal characteristics could contribute to changing the lives of children with special needs. Jaimie went on to read all of MacCracken’s books and was particularly struck by her intensely individualized approach to teaching.

“She wrote about how she reached every child in a different way,” Jaimie recalls. “I knew at that point that is what I wanted to do with my life
and I haven’t veered off that path.”

Jaimie joined The Guild for Human Services as director of admissions and outreach last month after working for more than two decades at the May Institute, most recently as executive director of the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. In her new role, Jaimie is educating families of prospective students about The Guild’s unique approach, and promoting Guild programs and services to local education agencies, state agencies and other referral entities. She appreciates the opportunity to return to family engagement work.

“I felt I was moving too far away from what first drew me to the field. This role affords me more time with students and families and less time on policy, budgets and regulations,” Jaimie explains.

She has quickly embraced The Guild’s mission of delivering services in a way that empowers students to develop independence and become active members of the community. “At The Guild, there is a team approach, which includes the students and their families, to customizing academics, vocational services and residential skills to meet each student’s needs.”

Jaimie, who grew up in Everett, graduated cum laude from Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. She vividly recalls her first day as a student intern in 1999 at a May Institute school in Arlington, where she immediately connected with a 7-year-old boy with autism. The chubby-cheeked youngster preferred not to nap, so he was permitted to do quiet activities on his mat.

“He grabbed me by the hand and said, ‘Come,’ ” Jaimie remembers. “He showed me his teddy bear and a pile of his favorite books. I read to him and he pointed out pictures he liked. My nervousness just melted away. Little did I know at that moment that I would be serving individuals with autism for the next 20 years.”