I began my career in education as what used to be called a teacher’s aide, but what school districts now commonly refer to as a paraprofessional. I was assigned to help in an elementary classroom and supervise the playground during the afternoon recess. On my first day on the job the school secretary handed me a whistle and commented that I should wear more appropriate shoes in the future and reconsider my choice of jewelry. I had worn dress shoes and a long necklace that I was certain made me look professional and responsible. I couldn’t understand what the secretary could possibly find wrong with what I had worn!
Later in the day while on yard duty, my necklace was the subject of much fascination by dozens of kindergarten students who stepped on my shoes in an effort to get a look at my regrettable choice of jewelry. By the end of the day, my feet were sore, and my necklace was in my pocket. Despite that, I was still excited to return to work the next day. The kids were so much fun!
Although the fun of interacting with students was what first hooked me on working at a school, what really made me want to build a career in education was the sense of purpose that my job gave me. I loved knowing that I was helping students and my community. What began as a way to earn rent money developed into a passion for working with students and in schools. I’ve now spent over 20 years in education. I’ve found all my positions, from a teacher’s aide to a teacher, and an administrator to all be purposeful. There are some days when it is exhausting and challenging, but it is still inspiring to know that my work in schools and for schools, makes a difference for kids.
In my current role as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, I often meet with employees as they are preparing to retire. These meetings have solidified my stance that working in schools is one of the best choices I ever made. Whether they are retiring from driving a bus or teaching calculus, the vast majority of the soon-to-retire employees tell me how proud they are of the work they’ve done. They tell me of past projects they’ve worked on with students, and lessons they’ve learned over their career. Their sense of pride for having done their important work helping students and schools is inspiring!
Schools shape the lives of our students and influence every community and society. From driving a bus, working in the cafeteria, monitoring students on the playground, or teaching them to read, there are many roles to fill in schools and they all work for the noble purpose of helping kids to grow and learn. There are many employment opportunities at Ukiah Unified School District, visit www.uusd.net and learn about the many ways you can make a difference for kids.