She hasn’t missed a day of school in the past five years. He spends his own money on paper, pencils and snacks for special occasions. They chaperone school activities and frequently show up at games and matches. They listen and nudge and encourage, and they awake in the night worrying about “their kids”.
In the busy-ness of a school year, paraprofessionals are sometimes underappreciated, certainly nor intentionally, but because their role and responsibilities are meant to be “on the side”. They are the guides on the side! Parapros work at blending into the classroom, into the educational community, providing the support needed by struggling students. And while striving to give this educational support, so many parapros forge strong and valuable relationships not only with the students they are responsible for, but also with other students in the community.
Unfortunately, when it comes to professional development, paraprofessionals are sometimes overlooked. School districts face the constant challenge to provide staff development within shrinking budgets. This often means that allocations for materials and programs are often not sufficient to provide ample training and materials for paraprofessional professional development! And yet, these members of the educational community have a day-to-day pivotal role in applying IEP mandates! It is critical to maximize the effectiveness of this valued resource by provide ongoing, relevant, useful paraeducator training and handbooks.
It really does take a whole village to raise a child – and those doing the raising need ongoing support, training and appreciation!
Beth Sugg, Co-Founder
Literacy Education and Resource Network (LEARN)