Paraeducators Care and Educate


Molly Clark

Paraeducator Tyra Small

Lilli Roberts, Reporter

At Peninsula, people pride themselves for being loving, accepting, and helpful. Paraeducators contribute to this positive and welcoming environment. They’re always there, ready to help and give their all, yet there are plenty of people who don’t fully understand their jobs.

Paraeducators are often thought of as a teacher’s assistant, or the people who only work with special-needs kids, but they do so much more than that. They provide advice and assistance to all students alike.

Connie Knox has been a paraeducator for the past nine years of her life. Before that, she spent thirty-eight years working at Safeway and helping in her own kids’ classes.

“I was looking for retirement, but I didn’t want to just retire, so I started looking at my options,” said Knox.

Knox had helped in her kids’ classes and she’d always wanted to be a teacher. After talking to a few of her friends who were paraeducators, she knew what she wanted to do. Nine years later, she still loves her job.

“I think being at Peninsula High School makes a huge difference because everyone here is so accepting and loving. I haven’t really encountered too much negativity at this school. I’ve worked at other schools and they don’t seem to be as accepting as Peninsula,” said Knox.

Although not all students want the help that paras like Knox offer, Knox doesn’t take take it personally. She’s learned through the years that some kids just don’t want help, and there isn’t really anything to be done about it.

Another para at Peninsula is Tyra Small. Small is a well-known and a loved para around the school.

“I like working with kids and I like to help kids who need extra help, and so I find it fun and rewarding to watch them grow,” said Small.

Being a paraeducator isn’t an easy job. They’re met with stubbornness, resistance, and sometimes disrespect. Yet at the same time, when they can get the kids to try and to cooperate, it’s a rewarding experience.

“Meeting and exceeding the goals is the best part, and watching them get excited because they met their goals,” said Small.

Mrs. O’Dell, who has Knox working in her third period, is extremely grateful for the help that paraeducator’s provide to teachers. With only one person in charge of a class of twenty students and higher, things can get complicated and frustrating quickly.

“A lot of students that struggle in school do need that extra person to push them and help them get done. They’re like a second teacher in here, and they need to be respected,” said O’Dell.

Whether PHS paraeducators are helping one specific student, or helping kids around the entire class, their job calls for patience and understanding.

“I think that the main goal of all staff at PHS is to keep our students on the right track, get them ready for their future and watch them graduate,” said Small.

Paraeducators tend to be overlooked in the whirlwind of staff and students going through Peninsula. Their jobs aren’t easy, and they don’t always get the thanks they deserve, but they come to school every day prepared to make a difference in students’ lives.