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May 2017

2017 Paraeducator of the Year

On April 6, I had the pleasure of walking into a classroom at Fisher Elementary School and surprising Mr. Dennis Rivera with the Paraeducator of the Year Award. Dennis has worked in our district for the past few years and has made a real difference in the lives of our students and the faculty he supports. I knew the selection committee made a great decision with the selection of Dennis, and these feelings were validated when one of his students ran over and gave Mr. Rivera a great big hug upon hearing the news. The student may not have known exactly what was going on, but something seemed to tell him this was a big deal. Ms. Melissa Johnson, BOE Chair, Ms. Phyllis Worhunsky, Principal, Ms. Barbara Trinks, Director of Special Services and Pupil Personnel, and Ms. Amy Battisto, first grade teacher, joined me as we congratulated Dennis in front of his students. Dennis was clearly surprised and humbled by the announcement. Yet, he was able to express his feelings about his work in a very genuine way. I am taking some liberties with his exact words but he said that he loved what he did and felt blessed to have the opportunity to work with his students and the teachers at FES. He felt that working at FES made him a better person. 
Dennis Rivera is a great example of the quality of people we hire to work with our students. He was not seeking recognition but his hard work, caring attitude and “can do” philosophy earned him the respect and admiration of staff and students. 

Dennis and all of our paraprofessionals wear many different hats during the course of the day and the year. They help make our schools great by maintaining a supportive learning environment, planning and organizing learning experiences, engaging students in learning, assisting with instruction, and monitoring student progress and achievement. In some cases, they deal with only one student and other times they are responsible for supporting many more. No matter the situation, they are counted on to be flexible, adaptable and caring towards all students.

Although this article focuses on our Paraeducator of the Year, I want to share some thoughts on other members of our team who I consider unsung heroes. The bus drivers, cafeteria workers, tutors, substitutes, custodians, recess and lunch monitors, nurses and secretaries all interact with our students on a daily basis. They may not be in the spotlight like our teachers and administrators but they are vitally important to our work with children. Each team member can have a positive and meaningful impact on one or many students throughout the course of the school year. Of course, our students can have a positive impact on our staff as well. If you feel like you have what it takes to work in a supportive yet demanding environment, I would urge you to check out our job openings on our website under “Employment Opportunities”. We are always looking for the best the community has to offer to help support our students achieve success in learning. 

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