Local Spotlight: J.P. Guillerault
Jean-Philippe “J.P.” Guillerault, is someone with direction in life.
When the 22-year-old Saco native graduated from Curry College in Massachusetts in the spring, he already had secured a job.
This summer he worked as a summer camp counselor, and is preparing for a job as an educational technician at Spurwink School in Chelsea, which serves students with behavioral disorders and learning challenges. This fall, he’ll also start work on a Master’s Degree through University of Maine Farmington so he can get certified as a special education teacher. A hefty schedule for someone who’s just graduated from college, but Guillerault doesn’t mind.
“I like being busy,” he said.
Guillerault graduated with a degree in Community Educations with minors in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Education, Special Education and Psychology.
Guillerault’s interest in education sparked at an early age. He has a brother with cognitive and physical disabilities, and understanding the way his brother learned and processed things gave Guillerault a love and appreciation for teaching. As a teenager at Thornton Academy, Guillerault volunteered with disabled students in a life skills class and also helped establish a unified sports club, uniting athletes with disabilities and athletes without disabilities.
“When I got to college, I took as many special education classes as I could, and I had some really cool experiences in my practicums,” he said, adding that he completed a practicum at an after-school program and another one at a special education school.
“It was awesome, definitely challenging and stressful, but it was a really cool learning experience that really cemented for me that I do love teaching,” he said.
While at Curry College, Guillerault picked up Rugby and was captain his senior year. He was recognized by the National Collegiate Rugby organization as a Scholastic All-American, which recognizes college students for excellence in the sport and in academics. He now plays for a men’s club team.
One experience that made a huge impact in Guillerault’s life was getting matched with a “Big Brother” through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine.
In middle school, he was paired up with local business owner and handyman Leo Menard, and it was a perfect match. The two in 2017 were named Big and Little Brother of the Year. Menard attended Guillerault’s high school and college graduations and rugby games, and helped him move to college.
Guillerault is now an adult, but the two remain close.
“I like to call Leo to let him know how things are going with me, and see what’s going on with him. Leo’s a really great guy,” he said.
Menard, who is an avid community volunteer, enlisted Guillerault in community service opportunities such as helping out at the Toys for Tots gift distribution. Guillerault also worked with Menard at his handyman business. Menard is always happy to share his knowledge about home improvement, lend an ear or give advice; and has taught Guillerault about managing finances and the importance of a good work ethic.
“That’s a cool thing with Leo. I can call someone if I ever have a question,” he said. “He’s been really important in my life.”
Guillerault said participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine really helped shape his life. He would like to someday to become a big brother, and give to someone else the experience that Menard gave him.
Publisher Liz Gotthelf can be reached at [email protected].