For the last couple of years, the COVID pandemic and a national staffing shortage have burdened NECC staff and restricted the availability of extracurricular activities for students. While NECC’s staff count has been slowly increasing, this fall, the Center received an influx of help in the form of international staff.
“It’s been huge,” said Kaitlyn Shea, MEd, SHRM-CP, assistant director of talent acquisition. “The addition of teachers has not only eased the workload of our current staff but has enhanced the culture and community at NECC. International recruiting also enables NECC to visualize and live our mission of creating a global network of educators.”
Prior to COVID, NECC focused its visa sponsorships on individuals in Canada and Mexico, however, after receiving employment interest throughout the pandemic from international applicants, NECC’s recruiting team worked to instate an H1b visa sponsorship. The H1b visa is a nonimmigrant classification that applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation. Working with children with autism falls under that classification. Since September 2022, NECC has been able to recruit teachers from 13 countries, with 16 new teachers already working in Southborough and 34 more engaged in the hiring process.
The flow of qualified staff can be credited in part to the help of Linda Bailey, MS, BCBA, LABA, NECC’s new assistant director of international talent acquisition. In this role, Bailey, who is based at the Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Special Education operated by NECC (MRC-NECC) in Abu Dhabi, is making connections with universities and their alumni in order to expand NECC’s recruiting pool.
“Because there has been so much interest in the U.S. and abroad, it’s been helpful to have someone in a different part of the world. She is able to do more on-site recruiting events and meeting with applicants at a wider range of times, given the time difference,” said Shea. “Linda is able to help us more with our global outreach and making those important connections that are important for building relationships.”
Though Bailey is new to this role (October 2022), she is not new to NECC. She was hired as a teacher on Saddle Hill Road in 2008 and moved to the Abu Dhabi program in summer 2009, where she served as a teacher, lead teacher, and then program specialist before transitioning to the role of graduate studies, internships, and BCBA mentoring in 2016. Because of her unique position in Abu Dhabi, Bailey is also working on increasing the number of international staff transferring from MRC-NECC to Southborough.
“We have been working to make the transition for our international staff as smooth as possible,” added Shea. “Overall, our new staff members are very happy to be working on their teams and are happy having this experience working at NECC. We are world-renowned, and they value this opportunity to train with the best of the best. This is why when these staff return home to visit family, they share their experiences and spread the word about NECC. These staff referrals have been an important part of our international recruiting.”
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of NECC’s Insight newsletter.