For Jescah Apamo-Gannon, the path to The New England Center for Children® (NECC®) began with a Google search. Already equipped with an undergraduate degree from the University of Nairobi in her native Kenya, Apamo-Gannon wanted to begin a career in special education. Through searching online, Apamo-Gannon found NECC, setting her off on a professional odyssey that has led her to recently being named the chair of the Graduate Program in Severe Disabilities at Fitchburg State University.
Apamo-Gannon was initially drawn to NECC because of its graduate programs and the opportunity to gain hands-on experience while continuing her education. In total, she spent six years at NECC, beginning as a teacher in the day school and ending as an education coordinator. During that time, she completed her master’s degree through the Simmons University graduate partnership and received an advanced post-grad diploma in behavior analysis through Northeastern University.
After leaving NECC, Apamo-Gannon used her expertise in special education and applied behavior analysis as a teacher for eight years. While teaching, she also completed an advanced program in education leadership at Harvard University. Apamo-Gannon then parlayed her deep hands-on experience and newfound leadership credentials into a new role as a special education administrator for five years. Constantly looking to further her education, she pursued her doctorate in behavior analysis through Simmons University.
Today, after a whirlwind journey through special education and behavior analysis, Apamo-Gannon is imparting her knowledge to the next generation of special education teachers and behavior analysts at Fitchburg State University as a tenure-track assistant professor.
“The skillset I learned from NECC, I wanted to pass that along to students, teacher-candidates and students working on becoming behavior analysts,” she says about her decision to switch her career to higher education. “My experience, at NECC, in public schools as a teacher, BCBA and district-level administrator, made me feel like higher education was the best place for me now.”
Even now, despite switching professional fields, and years removed from her time in Southborough, Apamo-Gannon feels incredibly grateful for her time at NECC.
“There is not a day that passes without thinking about how much I learned at NECC,” she says. “When I went out to public school, educators were reading articles from people who work at NECC. I was so proud to say I knew them and worked there.”
Today, in addition to her role as a professor and department chair, at Fitchburg State, Apamo-Gannon also finds time to give back. She currently serves on educational boards and, a few years back, she founded a private practice where she provides educational and behavior analytic consultation to schools and families, mainly focused on areas of culturally responsive services. Additionally, Apamo-Gannon has partnered with two schools in Kenya where she conducts pro bono trainings geared to teaching behavior analytic strategies for educating students with special needs. These skills are rooted in applied behavior analysis and originated from her time at NECC. Currently, Kenya has practically no formal training in place in the field of applied behavior analysis, leading to severe educational deficits for students with autism and related disabilities as well as other behavioral needs.
“Working with hundreds of children with autism has exposed me to the wide range of disabilities there are out there and seeing how NECC was serving and teaching children for their specific needs, it equipped me to feel comfortable working in this industry in addition to the networking because you are exposed to so many BCBAs, special educators, and researchers at NECC. My professional network is mainly from NECC. That is why NECC is always a place to which I am so indebted.”