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Meet Heather: Academic Behavior Support Staff

Meet Heather: Academic Behavior Support Staff

March 1 was Employee Appreciation Day! We are celebrating our team members all month long by sharing their stories. Read more about Heather Salling, Academic Behavior Support Staff, and how she connects with the students of our DuBois, PA campus! 

What is your favorite thing about working here?  

The best thing about working at New Story Schools is the progress I get to see with the students. It’s what keeps me excited to come to work every day! Watching them grow and learn is so impactful. My favorite is when the students return to their home schools. Even though we will miss that student at our school, it means we’re doing something right.  

How do you make an impact on students’ lives?  

The greatest impact I have on my students comes from pairing with them. I stop and talk to them or play with them. I think those little moments are important. I’ve spent time in both the emotional support and autism support classrooms and though they both have their unique challenges; they can also be extremely rewarding. I have enjoyed every classroom I’ve worked in, and I believe I leave a lasting impression.  

Last year, we rolled out our BetterTogether guiding principles. Which one of our values resonates with you most personally and why? (Integrity, Accountable, Collaborative, Inclusive, Supportive)  

The guiding principle that resonates with me the most is Supportive. It’s what I’ve always looked for in a job and it’s what I consciously try to provide each day, both for my students and fellow staff. I want us all to grow and be the best possible versions of ourselves.  

What does a “day in the life” look like for your role?  

A day in the role of a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) and Academic Behavior Support Staff (ABSS) Mentor is never the same as the day before! If there is a staff out for the day, I tend to fill in. Otherwise, I can be found doing any number of things. I enter behavior data, I mentor new staff, I help with Intensive Teaching programs in autism support classrooms, I cover bathroom breaks, and respond to level calls. I also enjoy being creative by planning bulletin boards and working on projects, and anything else that might need to be done!  

Can you talk a little bit about your career trajectory and what led you to where you are now?  

I started working with kids in a daycare setting when I was 19 and in college and I loved it! After graduating, I worked in retail for a few years, but didn’t enjoy it. I fortunately stumbled upon a position as a Therapeutic Staff Support in an autism classroom. This led to me working as a paraprofessional in a private special education school for several years. My path took a little turn into Mental Health Case Management, but I missed working with the kids so much, I jumped at the chance when I heard New Story Schools was hiring. Now I’ve been here two and a half years and I absolutely love my job. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else!  

What has been your proudest moment or accomplishment in your role?  

My biggest accomplishment is that I’m nearing the end of my first semester for my master’s degree program. Especially because I graduated with my bachelor's degree just short of 18 years ago. I’m so excited and proud of myself for finally taking the step I’ve been talking about for so long! It’s been a very long road, but I’m so thankful for where I am.  

What is something about you that not many people know?  

Something people may not know about me is that I lived in New England, right next to the ocean when I was in my early 20’s. Sometimes I really miss the beach, but I don’t miss the beach traffic!  

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