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Celebrating Our Paraprofessionals

Wednesday, April 3 is Paraprofessional Appreciation Day, a national day when we celebrate our paraprofessionals and highlight the contributions of paraprofessionals to their students and schools.

“Paraprofessionals are essential members of our team of educators, and they do critically important work every single day, helping students of all abilities to learn, grow, and succeed. Our schools would not function without them,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “We have printed paraprofessional appreciation stickers and provided them to local unions around the state, and we encourage members to wear them on Wednesday, April 3 to observe Paraprofessional Appreciation Day.”

We asked paraprofessionals from across Massachusetts what being a para means to them. Here are their voices:

“My experience working with my precious autistic students has been a gift from God and I am so thankful for that. There are so many days when a student accomplishes a goal, is able to express his or her thoughts, or makes me laugh, and my heart melts and my eyes tear up. Growing up with undiagnosed learning disabilities empowers me to be more understanding of the difficulties my students experience and also to put forth my passion for giving them everything I've got and everything they deserve.”
–Donna Adame, Boston Teachers Union

“Ten-plus years in, I adore my job as an elementary school inclusion SPED paraprofessional. This year, as with every year, each of my students presents as many diverse challenges as my day is long. I feel an integral part in managing the many behavior challenges among these very special students with whom I work and love. It’s about praise FOR them, not power OVER them! Recently, after a particularly trying episode, a student did take the suggested breath and, in the next one, said, “I love you.” Did I feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction at this tiny “victory?” Did I make a difference in that child’s life, just for today? Did I feel appreciated? Yes, yes I did to all three! I feel as challenged and empowered as I hope my students do every time I help them make “a better choice” that helps them navigate their days and succeed in hitting their goals. It is what motivates me and makes me look forward to each and every day as a SPED Para.”
–Loretta A. (Lori) Capezzuto, North Reading Federation of Paraprofessionals

“Being a paraprofessional is an enriching and rewarding experience. I enjoy my work with students and interacting with both faculty and parents. As the demands of being a paraprofessional increase and change, I have found a deep appreciation for the work being done in our schools and our Revere community.”
–Susan Buckley, Revere Federation of Paraprofessionals

“Being a library paraprofessional mean a lot to me. I am able to help many students to start the journey of diving into many books. There is nothing more satisfying than when you have helped students find the hunger of wanting to read more.”
–CasSandra Samuel, Boston Teachers Union

“I wear many different hats as a paraprofessional in a public school. I'm at the elementary school level and I work in an inclusion class with the most amazing teacher. She makes me feel like an equal and an important part of her classroom, which makes this job so rewarding. Some days I come in and I'm needed elsewhere in the building, and some days I come in and one of our students needs extra help or attention either academically or emotionally. The children all know they can come to me for help, a problem, a concern or anything in the class. Which in turn means I have the ability to play basketball with some at recess, or play their games during PE class. Some kids talk to me during their lunch time about their social/emotional concerns which makes lunch duty a little more tolerable. The most rewarding feeling of the day is seeing the kids smile and enjoy their time at school because sometimes they don't have that adult in their lives.”
–Jennifer Cedrone, Billerica Federation of Teachers

“Working in the SPED Para program has led me to believe that my position, dedication, and love for my students gives them the respect and support they need to make a difference in their life and future. When I can walk into a Starbucks Cafe and be greeted by the young lady behind the counter, not only remembering my name and her experience in middle school, but thanking me for the push and support I gave her, it is the bonus of the profession.”
–Sandi Amburn, Pittsfield Federation of School Employees

“For 16 years I’ve served the students who don't normally have a voice. Everyone deserves a voice and should be heard.”
–Vanessa LaRocque, Boston Teachers Union

From everyone at AFT Massachusetts, thank you to our paraprofessionals for the amazing work they do every day!

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