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March 2021 Employee Spotlight: Heidi Bussey

A family Halloween photo squatting next to the trunk of a car dressed in costumes.
Heidi with her family from Halloween.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I am from Seattle, Washington where I was born and raised. My family and I moved to Utah about four years ago.

Q: What and where have you studied?
A: I received my bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in TESOL K–12, my master’s degree in special education, and my doctorate in educational, inquiry, measurement and evaluation (EIME).

Q: Where have you previously worked?
A: My mom always worked for our local school district, and when I was eighteen, I was desperate for money and reluctantly agreed to substitute as a paraeducator in a severe special education classroom—I was hooked. From then on, I knew what I wanted to do. I changed to night classes in order to work full-time as a paraeducator during the day while I was finishing my undergraduate degree. The university I attended did not offer a license in special education which is why I studied elementary education. After graduation, I attended the University of Washington (while working as a teacher) where I received my master’s in special education with an emphasis in behavior analysis. Upon graduation, I worked for four years as a severe special education teacher in an elementary school (grades 3–4) and was later recruited by my university professor to be a clinical supervisor in her private behavior analysis clinic. Three years of private work made me miss the public sector, and a colleague reached out to me about an open position as a special education coordinator in the Bellevue School District, where I worked for three years. During this time, my husband and I bought what we thought was our ‘forever home,’ but ten months later, my husband received a job offer in Utah which our family decided was too good to give up. I had always wanted to complete my PhD and moving to Utah allowed me to pursue that goal. I was originally looking at programs at the University of Utah, but my neighbor, Barbara Culatta, informed me of the wonderful EIME program at BYU. Upon finishing my PhD (which I do not recommend to anyone), I was fortunate to be hired on in the CPSE department as a clinical supervisor, which I love, because it puts me back into the schools—interacting and mentoring the special education students.

Q: What do you regret not starting or doing when you were younger?
I try not to regret too much; however, when I was in high school, I was deciding between the Running Start program (through a local community college) or a sport. Long story short, I chose the sport, didn’t like the sport, and ended up regretting not being able to obtain my associate’s degree while in high school.

Q: What was the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
Even though I didn’t think I would be a special education teacher when I was younger, the first career I dreamed of was teaching. I think this was partly due to my limited exposure to careers available, and partly due to my love of office supplies and overheads.

Q: What would you rate 10/10?
I would rate my family a 10/10! I have a wonderful husband who is my partner, and we are both very supportive of each other and our goals/ambitions. I have a nine-year-old daughter who has recently gotten into horseback riding (probably why I need a job), a six-year-old son who plays ice hockey, and two mini golden retrievers who are probably our most needy family members.

Q: Do you collect anything?
I find myself collecting water bottles (my husband calls it hoarding).

Q: Where could we find you on most Saturday mornings?
If everything goes as planned, you can find me sleeping in, but I will most likely be working on remodeling our house.

Q: Where is your favorite place to go on vacation?
A: My favorite place to go on vacation is Disney World. My sister lives in Florida (and my parents ‘snowbird’ there) so we go fairly often, because we can take advantage of some resident discounts. But my husband and I are planning a trip to Iceland that we are both really excited about.