I absolutely adore Boo Bear’s school, Focus Beyond Transition Services. They serve students with varying disabilities from the ages of 18 to 21. This is Boo’s second year attending Focus. He has a wonderful teacher, Rosalind, and a phenomenal SLP, Deanna. Deanna was the one who helped Boo find his voice at at 18, via an AAC. I will forever be in her debt.
As I said, these are amazing teachers, but I worry deeply about them. They are beyond tired. They are beyond over worked and under paid. In normal times, Focus Beyond and her sister school, Bridge View, never had more than 8 students in a class. The students would have one lead teacher and at at least 3 para professionals. Other instructors floated in and out during the day. The Pandemic ended all of this.
Paras do not get paid nearly enough, but they are the reasons that schools function. They are the unsung heroes of the special ed world. At present, Focus has up to 10 students in each class and the bare minimum of paras. Students are disregulated from having been out of school for nearly a year. They are relearning the most basic of things; how to sit in a desk, act appropriately with peers, not to mention the academics. So, teachers and paras are exhausted.
Last night the school board voted to extend the winter vacation. I was really hoping that they would extend the break by 2 or 3 weeks. This would give (hopefully) Covid numbers time to die down, and teacher staff and students time to decompress. Sadly, they did not get 2 or 3 weeks, they got 2 extra days off. I hope it helps a tiny bit. Teachers and paras deserve so much more. They do not work just a 9 month year. During the summer they are either teaching summer school or taking classes themselves. There are three months of the year that they are not drawing a paycheck. Many work side jobs just to stay financially afloat.
If you do one thing today, please thank a teacher or a para. Write a little note to your kid’s teacher saying thank you. It will take you all of 2 minutes of your time, and it will make her day. I have been out of the teaching world for 6 years, but still hang onto the little notes and cards that my students and their parents gave me.
Mr. Boo loves his teachers and paras with a fierce, simple love. He loves them simply because who they are and what they do. Please thank a teacher or a para. Peace, y’all.