Meet Ella Giles, Program Specialist

ellagiles-webElla learned about NECC after earning her undergraduate degree in behavioral psychology at Western Michigan University, and immediately knew it was where she wanted to go.

“I would have the opportunity to work in a hands-on setting full time, earning a salary and having my tuition covered.* The interview process solidified my decision – the facility was beautiful and I was amazed by the support provided for staff.”

She established two big goals: to become a BCBA and Program Specialist and to extend her graduate research into a practical procedure that could be applied within the organization.  She achieved both, and graduated from NECC’s on-site master’s program in applied behavior analysis (ABA) in 2015.

Working with NECC’s population is challenging but full of rewards. Ella says the hardest part is the schedule, as residential students attend 365 days a year and require 24-hour supervision. After working an unconventional shift for a few weeks, however, the variability grew on her and she learned healthy ways to recharge.

“As teachers, we work so hard to ensure the best possible lives for our students. It’s hard to go home and stop thinking about work. Did I intervene correctly with the problem behavior today? Will my student learn the skill we’ve been working on? I had to make a point of finding new hobbies and activities. This allowed me to refresh and create more energy and focus for the next day.”

Seeing student progress keeps her engaged and proud of her work, too. Over a period of months Ella worked on decreasing a student’s aggressive behavior, which precluded him from completing basic hygiene tasks such as showering, and implemented steps for an individualized routine.

“I will always remember the first time that he completed the routine without any challenging behavior and with full independence. All the hard work paid off!” she says.

Ella credits the strong teamwork and available support at NECC in reaching personal and professional goals.

“I have found that at NECC, if you set a goal and work hard toward it, you also have a supervisor that will help you reach that goal. And, when I moved here from Michigan, I didn’t know anyone. I met another teacher my first day of orientation and we worked together a lot, relying on each other during challenging situations and long study sessions for graduate school. She is still one of my best friends five years later.”

As for the next five years, Ella says “It’s time to set some new goals!”

*NECC staff pay $200 per course for graduate school. To learn more about our graduate training opportunities visit