Last year I missed out on the actual day, and it seems… I did it again. National consensus is that Paraprofesional Appreciation Day is actually held on April 3rd; but maybe one day just isn’t enough to thank those individuals that work in the many different facets of school, that “Paras” do.

Credit: DGLimages
Credit: DGLimages

When I was a kid in school, I got in loads of trouble for doing the very thing I now do as a profession. Talking. Funny how that works… Unfortunately, I usually did my speaking at a volume that was less than acceptable for a classroom (also, go figure). I was a spirited kid with ADHD, and it took my teachers a load of effort to keep me engaged and attentive in the classroom. I bring this up to show some irony, as I am married to a truly amazing woman who just so happens to be a paraprofessional at a local elementary. She spends her time daily with children who suffer from disabilities, behavioral issues, and some kids that just need a little extra guidance.

Credit: Dubuque Community School District Facebook
Dubuque Community School District Facebook Post

Frist off, what is a paraprofessional? These are the individuals known as teacher assistants or teacher aides. They are educational workers who are not licensed to teach, but can perform teaching-related tasks in support of certified educational professionals. They can now even be certified to substitute teach within the classrooms and schools they currently work in.

Credit: Halfpoint
Credit: Halfpoint

Para’s make life easier, not only for those that are struggling, but for teachers in the classroom. Working with children that are struggling with schoolwork. Struggling to make friends or cope. Struggling to learn a new language. And those struggling with physical disabilities, and in some cases extreme ones. These "Paras" are truly some of the best people I know, going above and beyond for the children they serve daily.

Kindergarten teacher helping students with writing skills
Credit: monkeybusinessimages

So, if you’re a “para” like my wife, I want to say thank you for putting up with and helping kids that are essentially “just like I was” (some of us grow out of it, I promise). I know some of your days are super difficult. I’m sure that some days you wonder if you’re reaching the kids you work with. Other days I'm sure it seems like nothing you say is working. Trust me. It is. You are superheroes to those kids; just by being there. The kids may not say it; so let everyone else shout it together!

Happy Paraprofesional Appreciation Day!

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Few things excite and engage kids more than the friendly and inviting smile of an adult who is willing to give them the time of day. Kids (that are just like I was) crave that attention and structure. Keep it up. Keep your head high; even on the toughest days (that’s when I needed patience from adults the most). Paraprofessionals; we know you don’t have to do it, and that’s what makes you all so special.

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