15Year Spotlight – 2005 – Nora Healy

  • To celebrate Vista’s 15th anniversary, we are shining a spotlight on someone who started his or her employment with Vista across each of the 15 years.

    2005 – Nora Healy

    While in the Boston area completing her undergraduate degree at Northeastern University, Nora entered into a Cooperative Learning program that allowed her to complete the necessary credits while simultaneously working in the field to apply her course studies. One of those work placements turned out to be an education setting for children with disabilities that utilized Applied Behavior Analysis, and from that point on, Nora was hooked.

    When she and her now-husband began looking for employment in Central Pennsylvania, she stumbled across Vista’s website and applied for a position as a Behavior Technician, officially beginning her employment on August 28, 2005.

    “I was drawn to it here because the kids were having so much fun on my tour. You could tell the staff really enjoyed their work, and the kids enjoyed being at school. I loved that Vista was small and growing. It felt really exciting.”

    What was Vista like in 2005?

    “What I observed from the beginning was a willingness to do anything. I knew I had the freedom and was encouraged to give the students the most meaningful lives possible. To this day, we will engineer any learning environment. We once mounted a swing in a classroom door because it was the only way to get a student to come in. It was refreshing to know that when it comes to doing behaviorally what these kids need, we come from a place of ‘we’ll find a way.’ It is still a place of figuring out how to do something, rather than how to get permission for it.”

    Though she started her career at Vista in direct care, Nora dreamt of becoming a Behavior Analyst and pursued a master’s degree from Penn State University and ultimately achieved her goal. She moved into the positions of In-Class Coach, Behavior Consultant, Program Coordinator, and currently holds the title of Classroom Coordinator, with a specialty in toilet training.

    What makes you stay?

    Starting with one student who had been struggling to learn the critical life skill of toilet training for more than two years, Nora joined his team on a mission to help him succeed and soon became an in-house expert. Now having presented on the subject at the Maryland Association of Behavior Analysis, the Pennsylvania Association of Behavior Analysis, and the National Autism Conference, Nora is a respected professional in her field, but finds the most satisfaction in seeing others come up through the ranks. Watching student outcomes affected by the adult learners she herself helped to shape has become her passion.

    “Something I try to do and take very seriously is mentorship. I love to see staff I work with earn different opportunities that make them feel more fulfilled. The beauty of Vista’s growth is that there are always new and different opportunities for everyone, and I find that reinforcing.

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