Successful Students

Transformation Tour – Every Adult in a School is Part of the Solution

By Paula Monroe

Does it take every one to help students succeed?  Do students need a healthy breakfast in order to learn?  Is it important to provide a safe ride to and from school for our students that live to far to walk?  Is a clean and healthy teaching and learning environment important to all of us who work at a school site?  Is a school nurse who knows the students and community a valuable partner to the teachers and school staff?  What about the librarian or media tech, is their contribution to student learning important?  Does the extra help that paraprofessionals provide improve student learning?

You’re probably thinking, “Absolutely, of course!”  Why do I even need to ask those questions?  Well, one thing that was abundantly clear to me during my visits to Cleveland High School and Hawthorne Elementary School – our Priority Schools – was the invisibility of these dedicated and valuable members of the education family, the education team. I have to thank the Association Rep., Sarah Brown, at Hawthorne Elementary for noticing that Education Support Professionals (ESP) were not represented on the school’s design team.  She spoke up and an ESP was invited and included as a part of that team.

While there was lots of conversation, especially at the elementary school, about the value and positive difference the extra help in the classroom makes, there was no conversation about including additional paraprofessionals in the plan.  Several administrative level employees were hired.  I certainly don’t want to diminish the importance of administrative staff, but direct support to our teachers in the classroom might be something to take a serious look at as we work to improve student achievement.

I read this on a t-shirt – The thing that matters most to a child is that they matter!  I think that is true for all of us.  Most of our schools have lost significant numbers of support staff and their absence is being felt in numerous ways.  How can we, as Association leaders, make sure every adult who makes a difference in a student’s life is part of the solution as we move forward?

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