Para Spotlight: The Dynamic Foursome

Story submitted by Taya Johnson, Behavior Specialist, Davis Special Education Department
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Ask almost anyone in the Davis School District if they are aware of a team of Paraeducators who appears to have super-human powers for working with behaviorally challenging students and you will be told, “Yes!” The job title for these talented paraeducators is “District Behavior Interventionists” but in reality they are known as “The Behavior Ladies.” The team consists of Marie Wise, Jan Pace, Kathy Prewett, and Kathy Chartier. These ladies are paraeducators who shape, manage, and consistently change the difficult behaviors of the most challenging students.

Marie, Jan, Kathy, and Kathy (“The Kathy’s”) have been together as Behavior Interventionists for almost 5 years. They each bring a unique set of skills and abilities to the team but collectively focus on helping all children succeed in school.

Marie is the most casual of the four but she always comes up with just the right strategy for helping highly agitated students. She makes managing a Jr. High age student in the middle of a tantrum look easy and maintains an impressive “poker face” during any student crisis. Marie has been spit at, bitten, kicked, and hit but comes back to work the next day with a positive attitude and determination to help the student understand that he or she can succeed and be happy at school.

Jan is full of common sense and organization. She reminds our team of what we should be doing and improvements we can make. Jan is our “go to” person on autism spectrum disorders and has an incredible knack for working with students on the spectrum. She works relentlessly with students who have frustrated other school staff and is able to see each student's potential. Jan fiercely loves each child and kindly pushes them to be their best.

Kathy Prewett is our clown and activist. She makes us laugh and allows us to laugh at her as well. However, she is extremely serious about assisting students who struggle at school. She ensures that even the most difficult students see themselves succeed. Kathy implements positive interventions with great detail and makes sure each aspect of a student’s day is full of support, direction, and accomplishment.

Kathy Chartier is our data, research, and detail queen! She documents and researches everything we do. She keeps us informed and rooted in best practices. Kathy uses her knowledge functionally for students and jumps at the chance to help with very difficult classroom and school situations. Kathy never backs down from a challenge and advocates tirelessly for every child.

Individually and as a team these ladies are incredible educators. It is amazing to watch them work! In the Davis District we often wish we had a dime for each time someone has suggested we “clone” them so we could have a person like them in each of our schools. We truly consider Marie, Jan, Kathy, and Kathy our “Dynamic Foursome.”

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1 Comment

Making Connections

I recently began working as a paraeducator in a small, North Dakota school district.  I loved reading this article and have renewed hope that there actually are ways to helpbehavior-challenged students.  I would love to be a "behavior interventionist" in my school.  I encounter 5 students (boys) with major behavior challenges.  I am wondering if there are some resources on managing classroom behavior I could implement with these boys.  Any tips?  Thank you!