Paraprofessionals praised for contributions


Gov. Mark Dayton has declared Jan. 12-18 as Paraprofessional Recognition Week.
Just what are paraprofessionals being recognized for? That’s a question administrators and staff at Maple Lake Schools have no problem answering.
“The majority of them work with special education students,” Maple Lake Elementary Principal Kris Harlan said. “The patience and expertise they demonstrate with these students are amazing. I tell them there’s a front row in Heaven with a gold plate with their names on it. They’re so patient and reassuring. They’re people who chip in to help wherever it’s needed.”
Paraprofessionals work with students in several different settings.
“They work one-on-one, in small groups and in classrooms,” Maple Lake High School Principal Dave Hansen said. “They not only support students, but they also support teachers.”
“Sometimes in a classroom a paraprofessional can float around and help anyone in a classroom, but they specifically help special education students,” Harlan said.
In addition to doing hands-on work with students, paraprofessionals also supervise lunch and recess, serve on committees and share other talents as well.
For example, when MLE received the School of Excellence distinction, paraprofessional Cindy Carter painted a mural to show off that distinction for years to come in the entryway of the school.
Different paraprofessionals have different areas of expertise.
“Some are strong in academics,” Harlan said. “Some have really good people skills and work with students with autism or other special needs. When we have kids with special needs, we can think of which para to pair them with.”
More information appears in this week's Messenger.