Paraprofessionals and their duties
Kathy Wendland describes her life as a paraprofessional.
February 14, 2020
Kathy Wendland walks to class. Day after day. Helping kids left and right. First, she wakes up at five o’clock in the morning, goes to school and prepares for her day. She heads to her first hour, where she helps mentor new paras, then to her second hour, algebra, where she helps a student one-on-one. Next, during her third hour, she has a modified gym class, and then during her fourth hour, she brings her students to lunch. Her fifth hour consists of ELA, or a modified reading class, and for her last two hours, she does the Works program, which is “teaching the kids job skills and getting them a job in the community.” During class, she redirects what the teacher is saying to the student in a more understandable way.
Paraprofessionals are a necessary part of our school system. They love to help their students. Wendland describes the best part about her job as “working with the students and getting to know them and helping them to succeed.” However, she says the worst part of her job is her wages. But in reality, the pay doesn’t affect her mindset about her job: “I’m not in it for the pay; I really just like working with the kids.”
Wendland has been a paraprofessional for 25 years, always at New Ulm high school. In those 25 years, she has encountered many different paraprofessionals. She said, “At the high school, I think we have a pretty good team. You know we all like to collaborate together. Like for instance, if there’s a kid I haven’t worked with, I can go to another para and ask them how to work with that student and have them give me ideas. It’s good teamwork.” She described the toughest part of the job as needing “to know something about every subject. It’s not just math, you have to be up on all of the courses.”
During class, Wendland may also have homework herself. “Sometimes I do have a little homework, such as if the English class is reading a book, I have to read the book myself in order to understand what is going on in class, or in algebra, if I don’t understand something, I take it home and practice so I can know it, but I am never assigned homework.”
Paraprofessionals go through school just like any other student, but with different motives. Wendland loves working with the kids and wishes them to succeed in life after high school.