My son, Evan, is almost 11 years old and attends Jefferson School. He is diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorder, just like many other children with special needs in our district. Evan attends school on a full-time basis because of the care he receives from a para-professional.
Many of our kids with special needs cannot follow along, cannot process equally, need work modifications, and are disruptive because of something that's no fault of their own. First and foremost, safety becomes the biggest concern for students with special needs.
Para-professionals aren't just classroom helpers. They're vital for day-to-day needs of students. They guide, direct, and help kids who can't understand about change to go the extra step and feel confident about themselves so they can do what "neuro-typical" kids can do.
They are mentors, leaders, coaches, and teachers to those kids who otherwise are unable to do it on their own.
My son and many other students would not be able to attend school if it were not for the helpful hands of a para-professional. Para-professionals are the backbone of our children with special needs who want to learn.
Mr. Juenger and the Dixon School Board, I pray you'll find a way to properly compensate our paras and provide them with the necessary time and tools they need to help our students grow and learn.
Para-professionals in this district are known for going above and beyond in their field every day with very low pay. Many times, being a para goes unnoticed because our kids cannot easily express the joy those paras have brought to them by being their mentor, providing them a chance of a lifetime to become who they truly want to be.
Paras and our school district give them hope and opportunities every day. Sometimes the kids have to win.