Personal Story

Impact Feature Issue on Volunteerism by Persons with Developmental Disabilities

Mary’s Story: Wearing Two Hats

I wear two hats in the Swanton schools. I am a paraprofessional at the elementary school and I am also the mother of two children who have Individualized Education Plans. As a result of our school’s paraeducator action planning, the training and support I have received have greatly affected my ability to perform my duties. The paraprofessional handbook we developed is a useful resource, with information about everything from sick time to lunchroom duties and playground issues. As part of the action plan we also have meetings with the special education teachers, which help me to know how to meet student needs and try different approaches. And we meet with other paraprofessionals to help each other figure things out and share ideas. These meetings have helped me realize I ‘m not the only one facing the same problems. The training on supporting children with challenging behaviors has been very helpful, as well. I’ve gained strategies to help avoid difficult situations. I tried these strategies at home with my own children, who are five and nine, and have been surprised how quickly and easily a meltdown can be avoided.

I would have to say that the training and support have helped me to not only help my students, but also my own children. I feel I know more about what I can expect in my own children’s IEPs and how to be an effective advocate.

Contributed by Mary Smith, Paraeducator, Swanton Schools.