Para News

Conference Prize Winner Number Three!

We have another conference prize winner, William C. Soltys of Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Illinois has chosen the $50 gift certificate to Black Eyed Sallys Restaurant to use during the conference. Congratulations William! I asked William to tell us a little about himself:

I am in my 7th year as a Para-educator at Lyons Township High School in Illinois. I work with special education students as a one-on-one in regular ed classes. I enjoy working with students and watching them excel. I am also the co-president of our local Association. This is a second career for me having retired in 2001 from a career in Hospital Administration with the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am looking forward to attending the conference and bringing back valuable information to share with my colleagues.

Don't forget that there are two more prizes and we will give both of them to the next winner- a product from the NRCP Paraeducator Merchandise Store and one of our Training Manuals. We will select the next winner by the middle of next week, so get your registration in right away!

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Henrico Prioritizes Pay Raises for Instructional Aides

More than 40 instructional aides from schools across Henrico County attended last night's public hearing on the district's proposed 2008-09 budget.

Their message was clear: Instructional aides should make at least half the salary of teachers.

One parent from the school district understands the importance of paraprofessionals:

Caroline Nelson, a Henrico parent, called these workers "the silent cog . . . that keeps the educational system moving forward."

Fortunately, the School Board was able to understand the importance of paraprofessionals as well:

(The School Boards) identified a two-step increase for full-time aides as a priority in the budget.

That increase would give the county's 363 full-time instructional aides, almost all of whom work in exceptional education, a nearly 9 percent pay raise.

Read the entire article on the paraprofessional pay raise here.

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Second Conference Prize Winner

Conference winner Sara

Sara Doege is our second conference prize winner and she has chosen the $50 gift certificate to Mayor Mike's in Hartford. We asked Sara to tell us a little about herself:

I am currently working with students with cognitive disabilities at Slinger High School in Wisconsin. I am also currently enrolled at Moraine Park Technical College earning my Associates of Applied Science degree as an Instructional Assistant, and I will graduate this spring. I am traveling to the conference due to our fundraising efforts in the Instructional Assistant Club through Moraine Park Technical College and I am looking forward to the conference for the informative sessions that are being offered, as well as meeting other Paraeducators!

If you haven't registered yet, it's not too late- the early bird pricing goes until the end of the month are there are even a few prizes left that we will be giving away before then. Register for the conference today!.

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Conference Schedule Announced!

The schedule for the upcoming conference has been released with 68 sessions covering a wide range of topics, including:

  • Understanding Your Student With Autism Spectrum Disorders from Cindy Myers
  • Establishing Policies and Creating Systems That Strengthen Teacher and Paraeducator Teams from Anna Lou Pickett
  • Living Wage: You’re Worth It! from Debbie Minnick
  • Degree of Work Satisfaction of Special Education Paraprofessionals from Peggy Akerman
  • and many more!

2008 National Conference Schedule.

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10 Questions to Ask Before Becoming a Special Education Teacher (or Paraeducator)

Sue Watson, from the About.com Special Education page has created a list of 10 questions to ask yourself before you decide to pursue a career as a special educator. Looking over the list, I think it applies equally to paraeducators. Here is one of the question she asks:

3. Do you have endless patience?
I spent many months working with a child with Cerebral Palsy with the main goal being achieving a yes/no response. After months of working on this, it was achieved and she would raise her hand for yes and shake her head for no. These kinds of things are often just taken for granted, this was a very big learning leap for this child and made the world of difference. It took endless patience.

Visit Should I Become a Special Education Teacher?

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Congratulations to our First Conference Prize Winner!

The first winner of one of our early registration contest rewards is Mary McKenna- she has chosen the $50 gift certificate to Hot Tomato's. We asked Mary to tell us a little about herself:

I have worked as a para with children with varying levels of special needs in grades ranging from Pre-K to Second. This year I am working with our Resource Department in the First and Second grades and as a substitute, when needed, for our one-on-one paras.

Congratulationis Mary- we look forward to seeing you at the conference!

If you haven't registered yet, it's certainly not too late- our early bird discount lasts until the end of February. Remember that the earlier you register the more chances you'll have to win one of the remaining prizes...

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First Conference Prize Winner Selected...

We have selected the winner of one of our fabulous conference prizes. We will notify the winner tomorrow and then post the person's name along with his or her prize. There will still be some great prizes given away, so hurry and register before we choose the next winner- don't forget that everyone who registers before March 1st receives an early bird discount!

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Three Cheers for Ben!

Kari is a "woman given the awesome task of raising 6 children, 2 of them with special needs". Her blog includes personal and insightful insights on raising her children and living life. Today's post includes an experience with her son Ben initiated by Ben's paraprofessional:

I answered the phone and Ben's 1:1 paraprofessional told me that he was escalating and that he had stopped himself long enough to ask if he could call me to help him calm. Wow! Normally when Ben is at a "4" on a 1-5 behavior scale he isn't able to ask for what he needs...and he did today! She asked if I could talk to him and I said, "Absolutely!" and she put him on the phone.

You can read the rest of the post, titled Ben's Call to find out what happened. If you have a few minutes check out some of her other posts as well!

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Teacher and Paraeducator Collaboration

Tracy Rosen writes about Collaboration for student success: teachers and para-educators working together. She discusses a workshop on successful teacher/paraeducator collaboration:

Basically this is what we decided was key - it is essential for teachers and para-educators to have a clear and common vision of what each of their roles and responsibilities are towards the classroom and the students in it. The only way this can happen is by talking about it.

Her post gives a good overview of some of the key points from their discussion and suggests these questions that para's can ask the teacher in the classroom to facilitate better communication:

  • What are your expectations of me as a para-educator?
  • How can I best help this classroom?
  • What is most important for you in regards to classroom management? being on time? how I intervene with a student or group of students?

Do you know the answers to all of these questions?

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I'm Arthur Goff, and I'm a Paraprofessional Video

I went over to YouTube tonight to look for paraeducator videos- I was only able to find one, but it is a good one from the National Education Association. Watch Arthur Goff explains how he became a paraprofessional and tell about some of his experiences:

Anyone else willing to video yourself talking about the importance of paraprofessionals? If you do, post it to YouTube and let us know!

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A Mother's Perspective on the Paraeducator of her Daughter with Autism

This article begins with a general overview of autism and how prevalent it has become. history of autism is the state of Vermont. From there, the article describes the experiences of two different mothers of children with autism and goes over some of the difficulties that they face.

One mother explains the transition that she went through in her attitude towards her daughter's paraeducator:

Learning to trust her child’s care to the school’s choice of paraeducator was difficult for Holzinger’s mother. At first, Miller didn’t want Pelkey to work with her daughter and requested a background check. Now, Miller says Pelkey (the paraeducator), who has a son with Asperger’s, has been a godsend to her daughter.

The paraeducator then describes some of the progress this student has made:

“It is a learning – teaching process,” said Pelkey. “We’ve used many forms of communication anything we have available – pictures, sign, spelling. She is so verbal now compared to what she used to be.”

Have any of the paraeducator's or teacher's out there ever faced a skeptical parent who needed a little help to understand the important role that para's play in the classroom?

The article is available at Finding their own way Mothers pioneer path for children with autism.

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Paraeducator practices smiling skills

From Tacoma, Washington, a thank you to "one of Tacoma's outstanding paraprofessionals, for her going above and beyond class work." Janet Caldon praises Christine Wittstock for her participation in a staff development assignment to "smile 10 times to someone who didn't feel like they deserved it, hadn't earned it, or didn't want it:"

“As a colleague of Wittstock, an instructor in the Professional Development program, I believe she has made a profound difference in the life of this student, both now and in the days to come. As a paraeducator, it is sometimes common to think that she is "just a para," when in fact, she is so much more,” explained Caldon. “Wittstock is a life-affirming, co-educator in every sense of the word! Hunt Middle School is blessed to have her in their professional learning community!”

Paraeducator practices smiling skills

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Additional Early Bird Registration Incentives

You have up until March 1st to register for the conference and receive the early-bird discount. However, you may want to register before then. Between now and March 1st we have a number of incentives to encourage people to register early. Once you register, you will be entered into a drawing for the following items:

For those of you who have already registered, you are already to go. For the rest of you, you will be entered into the drawing as soon as we receive your paid registration. The first winner will get his or her pick from the incentives listed above- so the earlier you register the more opportunities you have to win!

If you know of anyone who might be interested in attending the conference, pass the word along and stay tuned- there may be more incentives coming...

Click here for Registration Information

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