CCISD aides-turned-teachers bring wealth of experience to classroom


Special to Leader-Press 


For the last four years, Timothy Traeger worked as a behavioral support aide in a special education classroom. Seeing the difference he made in students’ lives as a paraprofessional, Traeger knew he could do even more as a teacher managing his own classroom. 

Traeger is one of 135 new teachers that Copperas Cove ISD hired for the 2020-2021 school year. With a shortage for teachers nationwide, CCISD is cultivating its own teachers from its paraprofessional employees through a variety of methods.  

Traeger obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education using his education benefits acquired through his military service in the U.S. Army and Veterans Affairs. Through the VA, he enrolled in Texas Teachers of Tomorrow and obtained his Texas teaching certification. 

“What’s so rewarding is that the returning students from last year or the year before are happy to see me and know that I will be there for them,” Traeger said. “Building that trusted rapport with them and being someone, they can count on no matter what is vital.”

Copperas Cove Junior High Spanish teacher Nellie Perez was hired in 2013 at S. C. Lee Junior High as a secretary before becoming an instructional aide and ultimately obtaining her teaching degree in May 2020.

Those who know me know I love to serve others, so I had to accomplish my degree to perform at a higher level,” Perez said. “My time as an instructional aide made a primary difference in being a classroom teacher now. That experience gave me an advantage in creating lesson plans, attendance on time, classroom management, and student rapport.”

Fellow CCJHS teacher Sherry Chipman also served as a paraprofessional before becoming a teacher in her Special Education Inclusion Seventh Grade Inclusion STEM classroom. 

“I realize that teachers do everything including tons of paperwork with each student and constantly studying to stay abreast of the school day’s lessons,” Chipman said. “A teacher must be very flexible and have quick reaction time to anything that may come about. As a teacher, you are responsible for your classroom and its students.”

The starting salary for a new teacher in Copperas Cove ISD is $47,500. New teachers who have worked as instructional aides in the district receive two years of teaching credit for an additional salary increase. 

After working as a paraprofessional, Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary new teacher Olivia Polsgrove said she knew that teaching was an opportunity for her to make a daily difference in the lives of students. 

“Now that I am responsible for managing a classroom, I am noticing that every day I get to see success and growth in my students,” Polsgrove said. “It is so rewarding to see them get excited when they learn something new or understand a concept.”

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