If you had asked Casey Del Percio when he first started working where he envisioned himself in ten years, he couldn’t have dreamed that he would hold a position at the Watson Institute with a newly-earned Bachelor’s degree under his belt and a Master’s degree program in his sights.
But that’s precisely where he is today and when you ask him, he says he owes a lot of his success to the support of his supervisors, mentors, and coworkers at Watson.
When Casey started working at Watson as an instructional aide in 2012, he wasn’t sure which direction he wanted to take with his career. Once he got into the classroom and started working with students with special needs, he knew right away that this was the place for him.
Casey shared that he felt like he could truly be himself working in special education, having the opportunity to connect with students with a variety of abilities and specialized needs. For several years,
Casey worked as an instructional aide, first at the Education Center in Sewickley, then relocating to Education Center South when it opened in 2017. After a brief time away, Casey returned to Watson with a renewed interest in working with students as a behavior assistant.
In this position, he had the opportunity to work with students in a variety of classrooms at Watson with a broader scope of specialized needs rather than being assigned to one classroom. “I got to work with a greater number of students and start building a good rapport with them,” he shared of his experience.
As a behavior assistant, he worked with a team of specialists whose primary focus is building support plans and intervention strategies to help students manage challenging behaviors. Working on this team helped Casey learn about new approaches and interventions that he wasn’t familiar with.
Career Advancement with the Tuition Reimbursement Program
It was around this time that Casey started to pursue his Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Studies and Special Education, studying and attending online courses in the evenings after working at Watson during the day. He was able to utilize the Watson Institute’s Tuition Reimbursement program to support the costs associated with his coursework, and says it was really helpful to work full-time in the field while attending his classes.
“I had a lot of support from the behavior specialists. If we were learning about a particular behavior intervention in school, I had the chance to ask my mentors about it and see those interventions being used in real-life situations,” shared Casey.
Earning his Bachelor’s Degree opened up the opportunity for Casey to advance his career at Watson, earning a new position as a Behavior Technician.
While his day-to-day routine remains consistent – he still does daily check-ins with his students throughout the school, trading jokes and personalized handshakes – he now has opportunities to put what he’s learned into practice, developing intervention plans and brainstorming solutions to help his students manage their emotions and behaviors. Every day brings a new challenge and in his new position, he has the flexibility to change his approach to help his students succeed!
Casey is now planning to pursue a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), utilizing the tuition reimbursement benefit at Watson to support the costs associated with his coursework.
When asked what he loves the most about his job, “it’s the people”; the students with whom he builds friendships and his coworkers who feel more like family.
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