How did you become a paraprofessional?
- Used to live in Hannibal, Missouri
- Husband is a teacher
- They had visited Nixa before and loved the area
- Husband landed a job teaching in Nixa
- Stephanie used to be a woman’s dorm director for a college
- After moving to Nixa, got a job as a paraprofessional at the high school
- Worked with kids with learning disabilities and physical handicaps
What are some things that you do to help break down the barrier between you and the student you are helping?
- By building connections and relationships
- Through being goofy and not being overly stern
- A slightly different role than a teacher
- She gives her students space unless she sees they aren’t on task
A paraprofessional has the unique opportunity to experience so many different classrooms. What is that like?
- Stephanie feels it is very beneficial because she gets to see so many teaching methods
- She can become critical of some classroom management styles
- But, she’s also able to learn how the students do and do not like to be interacted with
A paraprofessional gets evaluated yearly
- She makes suggestions during her yearly evaluations, such as giving paraprofessionals more training
- She feels like she struggled during her first year because she didn’t know what she was doing and wished she had more training
- Now she tries to help new paraprofessionals if she sees them struggling
How much are you told about the students on your caseload?
- Stephanie has an idea of what to expect
- The IEP is helpful
- But it would also be useful if she was given a note about their personality
How does it feel to work in a system that is titled “broken”?
- Stephanie feels there are more issues with kids’ mental state nowadays
- There’s more stress for the teachers
- And there are too many tests and a lot of data collection that adds pressure
What has the transition been like from when you first became a paraprofessional to now?
- Stephanie is happy with her job because she gets to build relationships with the kids
- She’s also grateful she doesn’t have the pressure of dealing with parents or meetings
- Plus she gets those school breaks to spend time with her family!
- Every day is different and it keeps her on her toes
- She doesn’t get paid as much as a teacher, but her job is beneficial and she doesn’t see herself leaving
- At first, she took the position because she needed a job.
- Now she’s made it work for her and she enjoys it
Would you share more about what happened with your bachelor’s degree in graphic design?
- Stephanie was going to add in a degree in art education but was forced to graduate with a graphic design degree due to her number of credits
- She didn’t go back after she graduated because she didn’t qualify for any financial aid
- Then, she tried to find a job in graphic design, but the software she had learned at school was out of date
- Eventually, she decided not to pursue a career in graphic design
- Finally, she got her job as the dorm director at the college she got her degree from
- Which she was grateful for because she was able to be home with her kids
- While she was frustrated with her degree situation,
- She feels like she ended up where she needed to be.
Will you tell us more about where you grew up?
- Stephanie grew up a bit in this area, then moved near Lake of the Ozarks, then to St. Clair
- Her dad was a pastor and they would move when he would get new positions
- She grew up in a strict and very sheltered home
- When she got to college she experienced a new environment and new people
- She feels like this helps her understand her students better
- Because students’ environments influence their behavior
- Even if the student is not behaving, she still cares about them and wants them to know that
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