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ESE Teacher Assistants -- Nurse, teacher, caregiver of special needs students

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Colleen Wixon

on 19 December 2013

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Transcript of ESE Teacher Assistants -- Nurse, teacher, caregiver of special needs students

Photo by Eric Hasert
Even with a tough job and low pay, ESE teacher assistant turnover is low. Many stay years, even working two jobs to make ends meet.
“The smiles on their faces just melt your heart. It’s really rewarding.”
“You get attached to some of them, seeing them every day grow up.”
“You know you’re helping somewhere. In some way, you’re doing some kind of good."
-- Wendy Porter, ESE paraprofessional, Challenger School
St. Lucie -
High School Diploma or equivalent plus either AA/AS, sixty (60) hours college credit, or a passing score on a rigorous locally identified test.
Ability to perform the functions of the position.
But their job responsibilities are many. Here is a partial list:
Giving medicine
Living skills
Toileting issues
“It’s not a job. It’s something that comes from the heart." Christi Saunders, Wabasso School
"These kids are my kids."
Makayla Raimo, Challenger School

“Anything that a mom would do is what an assistant does. Nothing is out of bounds.”
Christi Saunders, Wabasso School
Indian River County
Photo by Eric Hasert
Teacher's assistants say they develop a bond with their students. When their students graduate, the paraprofessionals cry along with parents.
Photo by Eric Hasert
“I don’t think people understand what we do. I change, I feed, I position. I teach five handicapped children a day. They just don’t get it. Unless you see it with your own eyes, you just won’t get it.”
Makayla Raimo, ESE paraprofessional at Challenger School, Martin County
Photo by Eric Hasert
Photo by Eric Hasert
The job of an Exceptional Student Education teacher assistant isn't an easy one. But despite low pay and many responsibilities, those in the field say they wouldn't want to do anything else.
Treasure Coast district officials say they would like to offer more training, but time is an issue.
"It's a difficult job in many ways. It is physically draining. It is emotionally draining."
- Vicki Jenkins, director of Martin County ESE and student services.

Key Qualifications Needed:
Indian River
High school diploma or equivalent.
Meet the requirements for the No Child Left Behind Act with two years college, associate's or higher degree or pass a state or local assessment.
Completion of teacher aide course, or 3 years related experience; or equivalent combination preferred.
Satisfactory criminal background check and drug screening.
Martin -
High school diploma or equivalent
Meet one of the following requirements: Two years of college, associate's degree or higher or pass a rigorous state/district approved assessment
ESE Teacher Assistants: Nurse, teacher caregiver for special needs students
By Colleen Wixon
Photos by Eric Hasert
Photo By Deborah Silver
Christi Saunders (left), an ESE teacher aide at Wabasso School, talks with student Spenser Cushman, 21. Saunders has been a teacher assistant at the school since 2007.
Wabasso School ESE teacher assistant Laura Hubbard (right) helps student Carlos Rameriz, 12, into the bus. Hubbard joined Wabasso in 2007, coming from Connecticut where she was an aide for 10 years.
Cynthia Johnson (left), an ESE teacher assistant at Wabasso School, teaches sign language to Shealin Scott, 10. Johnson, who has been at the school for 16 years, is the school's employee of the year. Johnson is certified in American Sign Language and is a certified nurse's assistant.
Makayla Raimo, who has been at Challenger School for five years, helps transfer student Antwon Clark, 20, to a mobile chair using a ceiling lift.
Wendy Porter, a 10-year ESE paraprofessional veteran at Challenger School, plays with student Peter Loutos, 15.
Full transcript