Brian Darby is a modest, positive, caring man who carefully words what he says. He was raised in Santa Clara and went through the school system. He also has worked at the Independence Network since it opened in August of 1991. And he has a unique story.
The Independence Network “helps adults with developmental disabilities become more independent in the community. It is a program funded by the Regional Center in cooperation with Santa Clara Adult Education,” explains Darby. The Independence Network is located on the Santa Clara Adult Education campus at 1840 Benton Street.
Darby shares that “when I was six, I was burned in a fire. I spent eight months in the hospital. I was in a wheelchair then. When I was in school, initially I was placed in a special education class since I had a hard time reading. I was tested and they figured it out it was due to poor vision and dyslexia. I was taught how to read and was mainstreamed after the sixth grade. This gave me the understanding of what other people go through. It gave me insight. I wouldn’t have had that if I hadn’t had that experience.”
Darby’s attitude is “Maybe sharing my experience will encourage others. There are more people who overcome…Even if something bad happens there can be good that comes out of it.”
And, in Darby’s case, a lot of good came out of it. He has dedicated himself to helping those with disabilities. Quick to give others credit, Darby teaches a class of fifteen students and has initiated several new ideas. “ I helped to initiate the Independence Network newsletter and the Student Council. The Student Council allows representatives from each class to determine various activities that take place…” explains Darby. Among the activities are dances, car washes to raise money, and Family Day. “My supervisor tells me I am good at starting things. Annabelle and Kathy have expanded on the ideas and are now in charge,” he humbly adds.
“I also helped develop the technological part of the curriculum. We are teaching students how to use a Google map to plan a trip. I have written several computer applications that help students keep track of their funds. Also, there are applications that help them plan their weekly schedule and make shopping lists for cooking,” states Darby. ” It is all the staff working together,” Darby emphasizes. ” And the students show what I refer to as ‘grace under fire’,” he continues.
Darby does volunteer work too. ” I take a lot of students out on the weekends and also advocate for the families. I go over to give caregivers a break at times. I also do a lot of research online regarding topics like how to get a wheelchair, or where to find wound clinics.” Darby explains his dedication is “because of the students. I see them change and some go on to live independently.”
Darby attended De Anza College in 1981, worked at Agnew’s Developmental Center before his current position, and finished an M.B.A. two years ago through the University of Phoenix. ” I read a lot of theology and history books to relax,” he smiles.
“I really want to acknowledge the management at Santa Clara Adult Ed. They have been extremely supportive, and also the Santa Clara Unified School District School Board-they have had incredibly hard decisions to make and still show incredible dedication to the students here,” Darby concludes.
“This job is my salvation, since the students strive to look for good,” says Darby. And so does he.