Faculty Spotlight – Meet Jonathan Bird
Born in Pocatello, ID, in 1974, Jonathan grew up in Dallas, TX. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education at Brigham Young University in Utah and gained his master’s degree in Physical Therapy in Denver at the University of Colorado. His previous job brought Jonathan and his family back to Idaho in 2006. In addition to his role at Carrington, Jonathan maintains his own physical therapy business that enables him to stay active and see clients as a licensed physical therapist.
Jonathan joined Carrington College in late 2009 when the PTA program was first established in Boise. He spent more than 9 months setting up the program, getting ready for the first class that started the program in September 2010. That first class graduated in May 2012.
“I’ve been a licensed physical therapist for almost 12 years, and I’ve been teaching in higher education for the past 3 years, basically since I joined Carrington. I’d previously done a lot of clinical teaching which made this the natural next step, and was why I was interested in pursuing the position.”
Although Carrington College is Jonathan’s first full time higher education position, teaching is something that he really enjoyed in his previous role.
“Part of my former role was providing clinical teaching for a variety of different rehab departments. I was teaching advanced skills and specific techniques to other physical therapists and assistants, occupational therapists and assistants, and speech therapists to improve their hands on approach.”
Jonathan decided the time was right to move into full-time teaching, so he applied for the position at Carrington College when he came across the opportunity.
“I saw it as the next logical step in my career; teaching was a natural thing for me. Getting up in front of people, communicating with them, is something I enjoy. After my experience in clinical teaching, I decided that I wanted to teach full-time, which is why this position was so exciting for me.”
Jonathan enjoys watching his students grasp concepts, acquire new skills and knowledge, and be successful. He also has a passion for anatomy and physiology; he recognized after taking the position that he would be able to teach those classes too, and that was an added bonus for him. But one of the main attractions was the opportunity to shape students into the kind of professionals that the employment market looks for.
“I was also involved in recruitment in my previous role. As a regional manager, I struggled to find qualified physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in Idaho; the pool of candidates was severely lacking.
Being involved with a new program that could produce marketable PTAs was an exciting challenge for me. I could help mold PTA students to meet the challenges of the profession and be not only marketable, but desirable to potential employers. To be able to put my name on those graduates, who would go on to help people, was also a strong draw.”
Seeing that first graduating class in May last year was a very gratifying experience for Jonathan – in many ways it was like watching the successful culmination of a three year project.
“We have a ceremony at the very end of our program where we pin our graduates with a Distinguished PTA pin; some places will do a white coat ceremony, but we do a pinning ceremony here. It was very gratifying to see the accomplishments of our first students; it was a wonderful occasion.”
Our goal at Carrington College is to encourage our students to be successful; it can be very easy to get a failing grade and become discouraged or disheartened, and think about quitting, but Jonathan encourages his team to be proactive.
“As faculty if we see somebody struggling we reach out; we did that just recently with a student who was failing. We reached out, worked hard together and did our best to set that student up for success. The student did exceptionally well and really mastered the materials, and in their own words said that they could never have done as well as they did without the proactive tutoring, support, and encouragement we provided.”
Jonathan has been married to Cristi, a certified music instructor for children, for 13 years; they have four wonderful children, one boy, aged 11, and three girls aged 8, 6 and 3.
Like his wife, Jonathan also has a musical background. He still plays the piano and sings, but he used to be in a jazz quartet – the band members were all therapists of some kind or another, so they called themselves ‘The Muscle Tones’!
As we do with all our Faculty Spotlights we ended our conversation by asking Jonathan what book, movie and music he would want with him if he was stuck on a desert island, and who he would choose as a companion?
Desert Island DVD – “I’m a bit of a Star Wars fan; I like to watch those with my kids. The six ‘episodes’ and the animated Clone Wars series. Let me say that I’m not a Star Wars nut or extremist; we like to watch the movies and maybe dress up for Halloween, but it doesn’t go much beyond that!”
Desert Island Book – “The Holy Writ is very important to me; I read from those daily. But I’m also fond of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and the Percy Jackson series, those books are a lot of fun. C.S. Lewis is also one of my favorite authors – The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is a great book.”
Desert Island Music – “I have a lot of favorite artists; I like classical music – I love Bach, Beethoven, Chopin…but there are times when that is too calming! The 80s had some of the best music; bands like Journey, Survivor, Rush were my favorites – I’ve certainly mellowed, I’m not a hard rocker by any means!”
Desert Island Companions – “I would take my wife and my kids with me. I’d want my sweetheart with me, and my kiddos. If I’m playing with them, hanging out together, we’re having fun!”
Thanks for speaking with us Jonathan. We certainly appreciate your time, your dedication to the PTA program at the Boise campus, and your ongoing commitment to your students. May the force be with you!
For comprehensive consumer information on our Physical Therapist Assistant program, please visit carrington.edu/degrees/physical-therapist-assistant/
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