The 13th Annual Utah Paraeducator's Conference was held this month in Ogden, Utah and a three paraeducators who received the Outstanding Paraeducator were featured in the local paper:
Joyce Winter works in a functional skills classroom and helps her students in the classroom and in the community. In the article she shares the difficulty of watching students struggle through difficult assignments and the joy that comes with success. She also expresses a desire for more awareness of people with disabilities:
"People need to get over their fear of meeting a special-needs person," she said. "Don't ignore them. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. And if you meet a special-needs person who is struggling, don't be afraid to offer help."
Hector Cortes is a paraeducator in a self-contained mental-health classroom in an elementary school. In the article he discusses the importance of developing a relationship with the students to better understand how to help them. Supervisor Susan Pizitz says of Cortes:
His role becomes much greater than it may look on paper... His presence alone in the room can help calm kids down. He talks with them regarding issues that are restricting their ability to get things done."
Stephanie Hansen is an instructional assistant in a post-high vocational training program. Stephanie helps students to identify their interests and learn the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. She is currently working on earning her teaching certificate:
"Both of my parents are teachers, but I wasn't sure I would do the same," she said. "But as soon as I started volunteering at the school, I knew that's what I was supposed to do."
Three cheers for Joyce, Hector, Stephanie and the thousands of other outstanding paraeducators out there!