Career Story: Paraprofessional And Librarian In An Elementary School

Paraprofessional And Librarian In An Elementary School

Job Title: Paraprofessional And Part-Time College Student

Type of Company: City of Lowell School Dept.

Education: AS, Paralegal and Library Science, Middlesex Community College •• working toward a BA, English and History, UMass-Lowell

Previous Experience: Prior to my assignment as a paraprofessional in an elementary school, I taught in the behavioral classroom for children 3-5 years old who had emotional or behavioral problems. Before I worked in the school system I was employed as the office manager for the local police department's training division.

Job Tasks: At the beginning of the 2008-09 school year I entered my third year as a paraprofessional assisting the Behaviorist in a classroom for children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Classes are usually small, with 6-10 students in a classroom and the teaching focuses on social skills like anger management as much as it does on academics. The students are also taught "manners": how to say "Please excuse me" rather than "MOVE IT, you jerk!" The students come from various backgrounds and circumstances, so a lot of our time is spent learning about their families.

I recently moved into the library. There, I work with second- through fourth-graders. I've designed a "Reading Stars" program, which allows students to "have the spot light" and present books of their own choosing to a group. We also perform plays and write poems. When not in the library, I assist in two second grade classes. I am 4 classes shy of my BA and am in the process of earning my teacher's certificate. I enjoy my "NEW" career; the best part is seeing all the "AHA" moments...or just seeing the students smile because they're having a good day!

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is working with children. Kids are really cool people. Some may be having a tough time at home or in school, but you can see they have so much potential and, with a little encouragement, could be terrific! A little corny? Yeah, maybe...but I like being the students' biggest fan!

The worst part of my job? When I just know in my heart that a student could be doing better, and he won't, for whatever reason. I get really sad when I see a kid give up -- really sad -- but I just keep smiling and try to let them know that I'm cheering them on!

Job Tips: Please, please, please go to college, even though you may not be 100% sure of what you want to do for the rest of your life. If bucks are scarce, it's OK, there are ways. Don't let anything stand in the way of a higher education. I totally changed careers and went back to college, and I have two children, a home and full-time work... But college is SO WORTH IT!

Take courses, read, write, visit museums and historical places... Always explore our world, it's truly fascinating! Don't ever take any negative remarks to heart....don't listen to "YOU CAN"T" talk....know your heart and have confidence in yourself...there's no stopping you as long as you keep reaching for YOUR dreams and goals....always have a back-up plan, college will give you that! Find a mentor, someone you look up to, and when you need a boost to your ego or self-esteem, and there's no one around to say how great you are, TELL YOURSELF! Be your biggest fan! One day, you may be somebody else's biggest fan...so be your best!

Additional Thoughts: Politics gets "in the way": sad, but a fact of life. So brush up on politics... good thing anyway since you'll be a voter... Education and knowledge are a must! I wish I had followed my heart instead of letting negative talk stop me from college and teaching...but here I am now, so I can say what I've said with experience to back me up! So, go to college straight away, learn about YOU and the world. Teaching isn't for everyone...but if it's for you, it's one of the noblest professions. Love of children and life and learning are some qualities a successful teacher should possess. Patience and a pretty darn good sense of humor are most helpful too ! Best of luck to you ! : )

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