When Samantha Blanco started out in teaching, she remembers how when she would walk into a classroom for the first time and see a student acting out, she’d say to herself, ‘That’s my student.’
Professor Blanco likes a challenge.
She also knows the deep satisfaction to be found in helping those students who appear beyond helping. She’s had that experience countless times over the years working with people on the autism spectrum.
“It’s really gratifying,” she says. “I get to know the entire family, in a very personal way, and I know that I’m making a difference.”
Professor Blanco is an assistant professor in the Master’s of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism program at Sage. The program’s designed to advance the skills of professionals who work with people who have autism.
Like her colleagues, along with teaching, she continues to work with families. “It’s important to have a hand still in it,” she says. “To remember how much of a challenge it is.”
“And,” she goes on to say, “we’re teaching our students to work in an applied field, so we need to be sure we stay on top of the latest best practices.”
Being part of the Sage program, Professor Blanco says, has helped her be at her best. Because she and her fellow professors maintain close contact, and teach one another.
“Since we’re all doing work in the field, and we’re all really invested in this work, we share our findings with one another.”
Sam says there’s a misconception that online programs lack a sense of connection. She feels very much connected with her students, as well as her colleagues.
“We’re all focused on building a community,” she says. “Students often become friends. We create group projects. Sure, online programs can be challenging, especially in the first semester, but we plan for that. We’re prepared to provide the extra support.”
They also have extra motivation to see students succeed. The need for qualified teachers in this field is great. Sam says she’s seen the demand grow exponentially over the past couple of decades.
If only more people could hear Professor Blanco talk about the benefits of the profession.
“I think it’s an incredibly optimistic field,” she says. “We’re creating innovative approaches that are changing people’s lives. We see real evidence of this. What we’re doing works.”