Bridget Irish, President and Executive Director


In the days ahead you will meet an extraordinary group of students and work with an outstanding team of colleagues. You are now a member of a team that works together and is focused on how we can best meet the individualized needs of each of our students. Each of us brings unique and important talents to Cotting School. I look forward to working as a team member with each of you.


As you begin your work at Cotting School, please carefully review the following theme of our work: “Together we are becoming Cotting School.”

I did not say “ Together we are Cotting School” or “We are Cotting School Together” or “Cotting School is all of us working together.”

I said “Together we are becoming Cotting School.

I shared that vision with you because Cotting School is a story of evolution. Since its founding, it has grown each year. The children have changed. For example, we no longer serve students with Potts Disease or polio and the founders of the school could never have imagined that many of the children who thrive here would even have survived birth.

Cotting School is the story of adaptation and teamwork.

It is the story of remembering and building upon our rich history and our successful work with children. But it is also about becoming something MORE each year. As we move forward together, we need to be on guard so that Cotting School never becomes a static place—trapped in time.

When you think of the phrase, “Together we are becoming Cotting School,” emphasize the word “TOGETHER.”

As in “TOGETHER we are becoming Cotting School.”

Our mission is to continue to work as a team in all that we do. We will not only have a passion for working with our students, but we will also have a passion for working as a team.

About Cotting School

Let me offer a few observations about Cotting School:

First, Cotting is a place of contradictions and surprises. Here, sometimes things are not always as they appear to be.

When people come to visit the school for the first time, they often expect to see kids who are sad and staff who are tired. They find the opposite is true. Our students are happy and our staff is energized and creative.

Second, Cotting prides itself on exceptional care for children that I often describe by two seemingly opposite adjectives: tough and tender.

I find tenaciousness in our students. They each have a fighting spirit, an “I can do it” toughness that has helped each of them overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. At the same time there is tenderness as they treat others with exquisite kindness.

Third, in many ways, the world often measures success the wrong way: where do you live, how many things do you own, how much money do you make or how much does your car cost? This is the wrong way to measure success.

To assess the true measure of success you need to answer the following question: Did YOU do your BEST with the gifts that YOU were given?

Each of our students has special talents and our job is to bring those talents forward.

What We Expect at Cotting School

Here are seven things parents and students can expect from us:

  1. Safety – Students will be safe at Cotting School.
  2. Professional and Skillful Work with Children – Staff will be professional and skillful in their work every day.
  3. Partnership and Respect – Staff will treat each student, their families and their fellow staff members with respect. Staff will see parents as partners in the education of their children. Staff will welcome parental input. There may be times that parents and staff members don’t agree. But staff members will work together, listen and treat parents and fellow employees with respect.
  4.  Responsiveness and Timeliness – You will respond rapidly to calls or emails. Our standard is that every call from a parent is returned within 24 hours or less.
  5. Innovation –Staff members at Cotting School will develop innovations and solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of each student.
  6. Excellence –Each student will receive an excellent education at Cotting School. Parents and students have a right to expect a great deal from us and we will deliver.
  7. Generosity of Spirit – There is a warmth here, a good humor and a generous spirit of caring. You will see it in how we work with each other and how the students enjoy each other.


In the weeks and months ahead, I hope that you have the opportunity to appreciate the passion for education and commitment to excellent care that embodies every one of our staff members: from our reception and secretarial staff, to our kitchen and maintenance crews, to our teachers, specialists, nurses, therapists and administrators.

Our staff is here because each one is committed to independence and success for each student. Each member of our staff knows that parents have placed the education and care of their child, their most precious gift, in our hands. And I would add, the hands of the finest special education school faculty and staff in the nation.

Together we join in a partnership, a team. At Cotting we believe that the teamwork of parents and staff makes us all stronger. Thanks for joining the great Cotting School tradition where teaching independence means building opportunities.