Copperas Cove ISD celebrates teachers’ assistants; works to hire more
By WENDY SLEDD
Special to the Leader-Press
CCISD instructional aide Anna Wakley looks for signs of success not just in academic scores but in student behavior. Wakley works with students who are mandated to attend CCISD’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program for students who have made incorrect behavior choices and need additional support.
"My favorite part of being a paraprofessional is when I am able to make a connection with a student. Even if it's just one student, for one day, or even just one class period,” Wakley said. “That connection might be something as small as making eye contact, or a smile, or a ‘yes ma'am’ instead of ‘yeah’ or ‘huh.’ I like to think that those little things will eventually lead to bigger and better things.”
Friday is National Teacher Assistant Day. Also known as instructional aides, teachers’ assistants reinforce lessons presented by teachers by reviewing material with students one-on-one or in small groups. They enforce school and class rules to help teach students proper behavior, help teachers prepare for lessons by getting materials ready or setting up equipment, such as computers, and supervise students in class, between classes, during lunch and recess, and on field trips.
Instructional Aide Jeanette Meadors works with students assigned to DAEP after at S. C. Lee Junior High where she was selected by Principal Brian Jost as the school’s 2021 Paraprofessional of the Year.
“Mrs. Meadors impacts students she comes in contact with because she is supportive. She uses this time to engage students in their work and update them on their progress to encourage them to keep succeeding,” Jost said.
Meadors began her career in the district in 2014 as a child nutrition department employee where she also served as a substitute cook in 2016. In 2017, Meadors was hired as an instructional aide to specifically meet the needs of Title 1 students before transferring to the S. C. Lee Junior High campus in 2018 and to DAEP in 2022.
"I love my position. I get to work with kids who are challenging. I see what teachers may not see and bring it to their attention and come up with a plan to help them,” Meadors said. “I get on the students’ level and build relationships with them and help them to be successful."
Copperas Cove ISD currently has 28 vacancies for teachers’ assistants after promoting several paraprofessionals into the district’s new program to pay for their college degrees in education to earn teaching certifications. CCISD will provide certification training to newly hired paraprofessionals to receive their instructional aide certification.
Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy Instructional Aide Mary Kay Richmond sits on the floor with 4-year-old Wyatt Ball reading a book.
"I am in my 14th year working as a paraprofessional,” Richmond said. “I love seeing the growth in the students from day to day and I enjoy getting to know the students and learn about their likes and dislikes and what is important to them. This helps me help them to be the best they can be."