Who are these quiet heroes? They used to call them teacher's aides, the ones who assisted with art projects or tidying up. But now they are paraprofessionals or para-educators, and take a more active role in the classroom, especially with children who are physically or developmentally disabled.
Much as a nurse is to a doctor, they work under the supervision and direction of a teacher. They offer support for the whole class, but often are assigned to a child who may not be able to keep pace with his classmates without extra help.
This one-on-one attention has allowed a greater number of students with special needs to stay in the general school population instead of being isolated in rooms designated as "special ed".
We have a lot to be thankful for in this country, where education is available to all our children. We are grateful to the dedicated teachers and, in turn, the teachers appreciate these.
One young teacher expressed her gratitude this way at the end of the year:
My kids continued to grow and develop in a happy and caring classroom community. I cannot however, take credit for all their success. I had a para-educator who was in my classroom most of the day, specifically for 3 of my special needs kiddos.
They aren't doing this for the money. It truly is a labor of love. These remarkable people give so much, quietly, in the background. Some children with intensive needs would not be able to attend school at all if not for the committed group known as "paras".
Another school year is now behind us, but there is never a bad time to plan on giving your child's teacher a gift of appreciation for all her hard work and kindness. Perhaps it would be a good idea to remember the para who works in your child's classroom too. For some clever ideas to say "thank you" to those hardworking individuals, visit Breezy Special Ed. Showing your appreciation to them goes a long way to let them know they are valued partners in education.
If you'd like to learn more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health and Education sections of our blog. Or, if you or someone you know is interested in working with special needs children, please contact us for more information
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