Dotson says return to ADRS is like coming home

Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services Training Specialist Courtney Dotson has hit the ground running since rejoining the department.

Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services Training Specialist Courtney Dotson has hit the ground running since rejoining the department.

Courtney Dotson said her recent return to the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services feels like coming home.

Dotson, who began her career in rehabilitation in 2004 after earning her undergraduate and master’s degrees in rehabilitation counseling from Auburn University, rejoined the department as a training specialist after 10 years at her alma mater.

Her latest role with ADRS might be new, but Dotson is no stranger to the department or its employees. She said she  worked closely with ADRS throughout her tenure at Auburn and felt very welcome when she returned.

“You can always come back home, and I felt like I was coming home,” she said. “I feel like this is a family environment. I never lost contact with anyone I worked with, and I still get to work with them.”

Courtney Dotson is pictured with Early Intervention Coordinator Betsy Prince during a recent training session for the program in Orange Beach.

Courtney Dotson is pictured with Early Intervention Coordinator Betsy Prince during a recent training session for the program in Orange Beach.

Dotson, who is originally from Grove Hill, arrived at Auburn University in 1999 as a student and has remained on the Plains ever since.

After earning her degrees, Dotson accepted an internship with the Georgia Department of Labor in 2004. The internship became a full-time position as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in LaGrange in 2005. She was recruited to the Opelika VR office by now Assistant Commissioner James Myrick in February 2006, where she took on the responsibility of covering three counties and six high schools.

Dotson said she has many great memories of her first tenure with ADRS because it allowed her to make a difference in the lives of students and meet many great people.

“I loved, loved, loved being a counselor,” she said. “I enjoyed the position and enjoyed everything that the agency had to offer.”

Her passion was apparent to her coworkers. She earned the Team Spirit Award at a staff conference.

Dotson also served as a member of the recruitment and retention team and the SMILE team.

When the opportunity to earn her doctorate presented itself in 2009, Dotson returned to Auburn University, where she accepted a full-time position at the school’s Transition Leadership Institute as an instructor coordinator. She rose through the ranks to become assistant director, eventually earning the title of director and assistant clinical professor within the same department.

Throughout her tenure at Auburn, Dotson had an opportunity to collaborate with ADRS through the Alabama Transition Conference. She also teamed with ADRS’s Karen Jenkins to implement the Transition Unlimited Initiative.

Transition Unlimited is an Alabama pre‐employment transition services (Pre-ETS) initiative designed to build capacity and connect services to implement pre‐employment transition services throughout the state.

Dotson said she is excited to offer any training opportunities that will help ADRS staff members better serve their consumers.

Dotson said she is excited to offer any training opportunities that will help ADRS staff members better serve their consumers.

The program provides guidance to transition stakeholders and local education agencies while developing action plans for the delivery of Pre‐ETS that best meet the needs of students with disabilities who are eligible or potentially eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. The goal is to build awareness of Pre-ETS throughout Alabama.

After 10 years at Auburn, Dotson said she was ready for the next phase of her career. She said she was excited to have the opportunity to rejoin her family at ADRS.

Returning to the department has been an exciting move because everyone has welcomed her back with open arms, Dotson said. Most importantly, she added, her new role has given her an opportunity to directly serve members of the staff and consumers.

“I feel like my gift is to serve and to help people,” she said. “I feel like this is everything I have wanted to do in a job.”

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