Julie LeBlanc, MS, BCBA, LABA, joined The New England Center for Children (NECC) 11 years ago as a teacher before moving into her current role as a specialist in the Vocational Department. She was nominated by a colleague because she “goes above and beyond to ensure our students have access to meaningful vocational opportunities and are making progress. She is so thoughtful and really tailors things to each individual student’s needs and abilities. She is also just so helpful to our team in general. We couldn’t do it without her!”
How long have you worked for NECC?
I started at NECC in August 2011 as a level 2 teacher on West 2. In 2014, I moved into the Vocational Department.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Seeing our students demonstrate the skills they have learned in a community work setting and engaging in tasks that they enjoy. I especially love watching our students interact with their supervisors, co-workers, and peers!
Why did you choose a career in helping children with autism?
I was interested in animal behavior and started off studying behavior analysis at the University of Florida (UF). I took all the BA courses I could get my hands on. Thinking I signed up for a course on primates, I accidentally found myself sitting in front of Dr. Time Vollmer and learning about ABA and developmental disabilities. From there, I joined Dr. Brian Iwata’s lab, learned about NECC, and here we are!
I learned about NECC from the PhD candidates I worked with at UF. They had nothing but amazing things to say about their experience and I wanted to take advantage of the master’s degree program NECC offered.
I continue to stay at NECC because I love my job as a vocational specialist. Not only do I get to work with the students and their teachers, but I have the opportunity to collaborate with people across almost every department in the school, in addition to members of our community! NECC also provides great benefits and the flexibility to participate in initiatives that are important to me, such as the Green Committee.
Which master’s degree program did you take advantage of at NECC?
I received my master’s degree in ABA from Western New England University (WNEU). My education taught me to view the world through a behavior-analytic lens and has made me a good problem-solver.
Why are vocational opportunities important for NECC students?
I believe that the opportunity to participate in any activity, whether it is related to work or not, is important for our students. Everyone has their own interests and strengths. Vocational opportunities allow our students to explore activities with the goal of identifying what they enjoy and excel at as individuals. These opportunities also allow us to assess areas of need for each learner. Community work opportunities are incredibly important to us; they enable our students to continue the exploration process and refine their skills in a natural work setting.
What is something about you that your colleagues might be surprised to learn?
My middle name is Fairchild, my mother’s maiden name. A distant relative, David Fairchild, was a food explorer who worked with the USDA. He assisted with bringing cherry blossoms to Washington D.C. and many other crops to the U.S., such as mangos, kale, and avocados. He also married Alexander Graham Bell’s daughter!
Who is someone you look up to?
My grandfather, John. He was a chemist with over 50 patents in his name!
What is your life philosophy or a motto you like to live by?
I am actively seeking different perspectives.