September 19, 2023

Emily Cooper began her career at The New England Center for Children (NECC) as a level 2 teacher in the residential program before moving to the Partner Program as a lead teacher in a middle school in Burlington, MA. She was nominated by a colleague because of the example she sets for others. “As a lead teacher, Emily shows that not only does she care for each individual student, but also for each staff member. Her dedication is so great to see, and her compassion is contagious!”

How long have you worked for NECC?

I have worked at NECC for five years. First, as a level 2 teacher on residential teams, and now as a lead teacher in a public school classroom through PSS.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of the job is working as a team to see the progress of the students. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing previous students graduate from NECC, and being able to witness all of their growth makes the busy times so worth it.

What are your daily duties/schedule like as a lead teacher in a partner classroom?

My duties are to teach small group lessons in ELA, science, and math. I am also a resource for the paraprofessionals in my classroom, ensuring that each student’s programming and education are tailored to their needs.

What is something you would like people to know about working in the Partner Program?

I would like people to know that despite lead teachers being in separate classrooms, the program ensures that every staff member is supported. I have had great experiences in both classrooms where I have worked.

Why did you choose a career in helping children with autism?

My college internship was in an adult service setting, and that’s when I knew that I would like to continue working with a similar demographic of clients.


I was at a restaurant one day when I ran into someone I went to high school with, and they referred me to NECC. I applied that week and have been grateful for that encounter ever since!

Have you taken advantage of any of the grad programs or teacher training at NECC? If so, how has it affected your teaching style?

I graduated from the Simmons University master’s program a little over a year ago. It really helped prepare me for the lessons that I have been running now. The internship process really helped me understand what it means to create a safe environment for learning in the classroom. When the students are physically and emotionally safe, everyone benefits.

Who is someone you look up to?

I have always looked up to my parents. My father instilled in me the importance of remaining calm during tough situations and having a sense of humor, while my mother taught me to always prioritize kindness.

What is a philosophy or motto you like to live by?

My motto in my classrooms the past two years has been “we’ve got this,” because whether it’s a difficult skill for a student to learn or a busy day for staff, we support each other and figure it out together. It is a team effort to educate our students, and I am so lucky I have had such great teams.