Motivator Spotlight: Mari Cerda at The Lighthouse Learning Center

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From starting in teaching special education in a public school setting to opening her first center, The Lighthouse Learning Center, Mari Cerda’s journey is an incredible one that we just had to share in our Motivator Spotlight series.

1. Can you share your journey in ABA therapy and what inspired you to pursue it?

I came into the field in 2003 when I began teaching special education in public school. I was so inspired by the behavior analyst (this was before we had our board certification!) who taught me the importance of understanding how our students and how we as teachers influenced and were influenced by our environment, and the impact that had on learning and success. I taught and was a behavior specialist for the next 15 years before shifting to consulting with teachers and schools and finally in 2021 opening our center.

2. What's been the most rewarding aspect of your role as a BCBA or clinical owner?

The most rewarding aspect as both owner and Clinical director is being able to shape this business according to the values by which I practice. Leading with a value system of compassion and dignity, focusing on mental health and support is a top down system that when my techs work in that type of environment, they almost instinctively create that type of learning environment for our learners.

3. How has it been using Motivity?

Actually, it's really fun! We have a curriculum and goals team that collaborates to tailor Motivity to the way our center is set up and run.

4. Share one powerful ABA strategy or technique you find impactful for your clients.

Applying the science and discipline to ourselves first! When we aren't aware of how we impact the environment for our colleagues and our learners we are less inclined to be responsive and shape our own behaviors to create the most optimal environment for each other. We tend to be more reactive when we don't do this. Application of these principles leads to self-reflection, improving our practices, and even recognizing when we have disrupted an environment and impeded learning opportunities.

5. Outside of work what's a hobby or interest you're passionate about and how do you balance it with your professional life?

My husband has been trying to convince me for years to play DnD or Magic the Gathering. We actually run social cohorts for our learners with Therapeutic DnD, so I can't turn my work brain off to play, but I did finally cave and start playing Magic with him and my children. I also enjoy playing video games with my kids and husband. It is one of the few things that allows me to turn off that side of my brain that is always thinking of the next thing for our center. We also enjoy cooking together as a family.

6. Can you tell me how Motivity supports collaboration and communication between you, your educational team, and the families of your students. How does this impact student outcomes?

Motivity makes it effortless for me to see the programs and graphs for all the students in the program, especially live when the paraprofessionals are running the sessions. The simplicity of the graphs makes it easy to show progress to a parent while in a meeting or a parent teacher conference. Motivity makes it easy to analyze the graphs to determine if changes need to be made to programs to assist with student acquisitions of skills.

7. Favorite thing about Motivity?

The libraries!!! Because of my teaching background, I take isolated skill goals approved by insurance and embed them in more activity based goals in Motivity. The flexibility it has to allow me to marry both teaching and therapy guided by ABA has been huge!

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UPCOMING GROUP WEBINARS

Integration-Specific Demos

Aug 7
3:30 pm
AlohaABA
Aug 8
3:00 pm
Calmanac
Marc Malheiro
Marketing Associate
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Motivity