Yeager ES Panelists Address Paraeducator Staff Development at National Conference

Representatives from Yeager Elementary School were selected to present the school’s paraeducator staff development model during the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Annual Convention and Expo, held April 3-6 in San Antonio.

The panel topic, “We Wear Many Hats: The Training and Support Needs of Paraeducators,” was chosen by a review committee to be one of more than 800 sessions presented over a four-day period.

Under the leadership of Yeager principal Susan Brenz, paraeducators at Yeager ES are offered various instructional staff development opportunities, provided time to collaborate with teachers and recognized for the significant role they play in students’ learning. New paraeducators are assigned mentors to assist in the induction process.

The panel members were David Villareal, CFISD assistant director of paraeducator staffing; Nora Lopez, Yeager bilingual paraeducator; Susan Brenz; and Kathy Grahmann, Yeager instructional specialist.

“We were overwhelmed with the positive response from the audience. A number of people came up afterwards and asked if they could come visit the campus,” Brenz said. “Plus, people thanked our paraeducator, Nora Lopez, for getting to hear her story and her ‘voice’ as it added so much value to the presentation overall.”

Brenz spoke about the school’s culture of collegiality and collaboration that built around the idea “it takes a village” to support the children, and all ideas are valued and respected.

Grahmann focused on the topic of master scheduling and training all paraeducators to work with all students, as well as the paraeducator mentor program that was developed to sustain a culture of excellence.

Lopez emphasized the camaraderie of the paraeducators at Yeager, their willingness to do “whatever it takes” to be a top supporter of the students and teachers.

“They are a cohesive group that are acknowledged at the same level as the teachers with the spotlight para award voted on by the whole staff,” Brenz said. “In addition, they have many opportunities to provide input on decisions that impact them through their preference sheet on job assignment and training needs, the district employee perception survey and the breakfast club meetings hosted by the principal’s secretary.”

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Yeager CEC: Yeager Elementary School representatives presented the school’s paraeducator staff development model during the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Annual Convention and Expo April 3-6. Pictured, from left to right, are David Villareal, CFISD assistant director of paraprofessional staffing; Nora Lopez, Yeager bilingual paraeducator; Susan Brenz, Yeager principal; and Kathy Grahmann, Yeager instructional specialist.