Para News

The Role of Para-educator

Introduction to a great article by Richard Finegan:

I have a degree in journalism, a law degree, and am only a few hours short of being certified as a mild-moderate special education teacher. So why am I working as a para-educator/classroom aide?

His answer?

Because I like being able to focus on the students. Only on the students. Not grading 150 of yesterday’s five-paragraph essays, or preparing tomorrow’s lessons, and especially not tolerating all that frustrating, annoying administrative stuff that teachers are expected to deal with.

Read the rest of the article here


Paraprofessional Thank you

I missed this when it was posted back in May, but it is good enough that it is still worth sharing. Below is a blog post where a kind teacher takes the time to publicly thank her two paraprofessionals at the end of the school year:

I am dedicating this blog post to my two Para-Professionals that I work with, Mrs. Rogers and Mr. Nelson. Both have made my year spectacular and I truly mean that I could not have made it without them.

Another Para-Professional Note


Paraprofessional Educator Entry on Wikipedia

Yahoo Answers

Wikipedia now has an entry titled Paraprofessional Educator that begins:

A paraprofessional educator, alternatively known as para-pros, instructional assistants, teacher's aides or classroom assistants, is a teaching-related position within a school generally responsible for specialized or concentrated assistance for students in elementary and secondary schools.

Not all states have a fixed definition of 'paraprofessional' and may use all of the terms listed above interchangeably.

After that, the article could use some help- the good news is, you can change it! If you have an addition or idea to make the article better, just click on "edit this page" at the top of the page and start editing. If you need help, check out How to Edit Wikipedia pages. Once you have edited the document, press "Save page" and your changes will be live! (use responsibly)


Para News Roundup

It's been awhile since we've done a roundup of para news... Answers a Very Important Question

Under ideal circumstances, having a certified, enthusiastic, well-prepared paraprofessional can make an enormous difference in the efficiency of your child's classroom and the implementation of your child's IEP.

What is a Paraprofessional?

Connecticut Layoffs

When New Haven’s schools open in a couple weeks, there will be 19 fewer assistant teachers in the classroom.

The layoffs were necessary to ensure that federal funding is not taken away, said Will Clark, chief operations officer for New Haven schools. Since the certification test is a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act, feds could pull funding if uncertified teachers are working in the schools.

19 Assistant Teachers Laid Off

Advice to Teachers on Working with Paraprofessionals

Above all, treat your paraprofessional with dignity and respect. If an issue arises, talk about it, discuss it like two professionals. You both should be on same page from the beginning, and continue to communicate your needs and frustrations throughout the school year. Remember, you are a team.

How to get along and effectively utilize your paraprofessional

Georgia Car Accident

Victoria "Tori" Thompson, 30, died in a single-car accident around 3:15 p.m. Wednesday while driving home from Chicopee Woods Elementary School... She worked for the school system since 2005 and was a special education pre-K paraprofessional at Chicopee Woods.

Hall paraprofessional mourned

Do you have any news that we missed? Please Let us know!



Are you a Paraprofessional Expert?

Yahoo Answers

Think you know a few things about paraeducators? Why not take a few minutes to help some people with questions. Of course you can always find a few unanswered questions on our message board, but that is not the only place people are looking for answers:

Yahoo Answers is the largest question and answer site out there with lots great questions and answers:


Welcome Back to School!

Last year, we posted a popular inspirational video of Dalton Sherman, a young man who reminded educators, "We need you now more than ever."

I don't know if that video can be matched, but here are a few more to help you get excited about a new school year:

Taylor Mali answers the question, "What do I Make?"

So You Want to Be a Teacher Song

Star Fish Story - Making a Difference Every Day

And Lastly, 40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes

Enjoy! Let us know if you have any favorites in the comments.


Interview with a Para

There isn't very much information about this video and the music is a little loud, but this paraeducator gives answers to some questions about her job that you may relate to:


Educating the Whole Child with 21st Century Skills

Linda Mariotti was our keynote speaker this morning and gave a wonderful presentation titled, "Educating the Whole Child with 21st Century Skills"

She discussed the differences between digital immigrants and digital natives and contrasted the skills of 20th century educators with those needed by 21st century educators. Are you ready for our 21st century students?

More about Linda:

Linda Mariotti

Linda began her career as an educator in 1971, teaching middle school English in California. Moving to Utah in 1985, Linda taught English in junior and senior high schools in Granite School District. She moved to the district office as a secondary language arts/foreign languages curriculum specialist in 1992. After receiving her administrative credentials in 1996, she worked as an intern administrator, assistant principal at both the junior and senior high school levels, and then as a junior high school principal. Linda returned to the district office in 2000 as the director of curriculum services. The following year she assumed her current position of assistant superintendent.



Paraeducators in China

smiling participants from our State Leadership Meeting

Meet Jessica Dai (parent of a child with autism), Larissa Feng (social worker) and Sophie Xie (special educator), pioneers in promoting the important work of paraprofessionals in China.

Their presentation was highlight of the State Leadership Meeting last night. They told us about two organizations- the Childrens Palace and the Special Parents Club in Guangzhou who started a non-profit Paraeducator Program to provide training for paraeducators. Lacking government funding this training is actually paid for by the parents of childrens with disabilities. We congratulate them on the work they are doing and hope to hear more from them in the future!. Their presentation is available below:


State Leadership Meeting Review

smiling participants from our State Leadership Meeting

The conference had begun and last tonight leaders from all over the country and world gathered here in Salt Lake City to discuss successes and challenges in their own states and countries, including three visitors from China.

The last half of the meeting was spent going around the room to hear about good things that were happening with paraprofessional all over the world. There was a lot of information and coordination that came really fast, but here are a few of the notes I was able to write down:

If you were there and I missed anything or you would like to add a website, just leave a comment!

Susan Simon From Iowa:

Iowas has now had voluntary paraeducator certification for 10 years, with large numbers of people certified.

Barbara Jo Stahl from Minnesota:

Barbara shared a new series of graduate level courses: Learning Support- a publication for teaching assistants in primary schools. A growing number of publishers producing books for teaching assistants.

Ritu Chopra from Colorado:

Working with the Para Center on a training program for who want to become teachers. Statewide paraprofessional training, under part C of IDEA. Setting standards with a coalition focusing on roles and responsibilities, also developing a curriculum (15 courses) train the trainer model.

Elena Sandoval-Lucero fro Colorado

Working on bilingual issued for teachers and paraeducators in urban settings.

Donna Broyles from Arkansas:

Focusing on how to work together as a team and a para to teacher initiative with community colleges and universities and partnering with school districts to get paras into that pipeline.

Carla Mitchler from California:

with the California CSEA with 80,000 paras in their membership. California just had their 12th State paraprofessional conference, open to anyone who wants to go. They also have a paraeducator task force and a magazine with tips for paraeducators.

Marilyn Likins from Utah:

Asked by the state to write a handbook for instructional paraeducators that wil go out to paraeducators, administrators and teachers. Working with the Professional Employment Center on career pathways for a para to teacher program.

smiling participants from our State Leadership Meeting

Sue Koprowski from Wisonconsin:

We had an active task force that provided a lot of training through state and regional conferences as well as stronds within the teacher conferences. Unfortunatley in January the funding was dropped. Working on establishing more avenues for students to move on to get teacher education.

Kent Gerlach from Washington:

Washington State has 14 competencies that paras must get within three years. Now focusing on school administrators and teachers- we have worked some paraprofessional interview questions for special educators. Concerned about the appropriateness of some training packages.

Betty Montgomery from Maryland:

Established a new Paraeducator Coordinator position to work with paraeducators and instructional data assistants.

Sally Murek from Maryland:

150,000 students, 200 schools and 2400 paraeducators in their district. Making sure the voice of the para is heard and that training is happening. Working on university partnerships. 60% of their 2400 paraeductors already have a 4 year degree.

Anna Lou Pickett

Ann Lou wrapped things up saying, "I'm sitting here listening and getting cold chills up my spine because we have made so much progress. However sometimes it feels like we are reinventing the wheel." She gave everyone the advice that whenever progress is made to make sure that there are people and policies in place so the progress will continue after you are gone.



Paraeducator Article from K12 Advocates

This is a great article that answers the questions, What do Paraeducators Do?, What Training Do Paraeducators Receive?, and What Standards Are There for Paraeducators?.

From the article:

Paraeducators generally work under the supervision of the teacher. "Para" means "alongside of" and, like paralegals and paramedics who assist and support lawyers and doctors, paraeducators assist and support teachers in a variety of ways.

What are Para-Educators?


Conference Update

Early Bird Registration Ending Soon!

If you are planning on attending this year's conference, be sure to register before Friday, February 28th to take advantage of the discounted early bird rates.

Conference Registration

Conference Lunch Forums

New this year, the National Resource Center is hosting three lunch forums during the conference. These will occur during Thursday and Friday lunch breaks. Interested participants would have an opportunity to purchas ea box lunch and join one of the sessions. Topics will address: research, community colleges and administrator issues.

Lunch Forum A: Topics in Research Related to Paraeducators
Hosts: Pat Mueller and Carol Long

Lunch Forum B: Community Colleges
HOSTS: Sue Simon and Joyce Evenski

Lunch Forum C: Topics for Administrators
HOSTS: Barbara Jo Stahl

Full Conference Schedule Available Here


See you in Salt Lake City!



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