Teacher assistants were reminded Thursday just how important they are in the lives of students.
Four Livingstone Range School Division students who have benefitted from the support of teacher assistants spoke of their importance during a professional development day in Fort Macleod.
“You help kids every single day,” said Rebecca Neels, a Grade 11 student at F.P. Walshe school in Fort Macleod. “Nick and I are living proof of how much you guys helped us, so thank you.”
Rebecca and Nick Asam, a Grade 9 student at F.P. Walshe school, both have cerebral palsy. They talked about their school days and outside interests, including snow and water skiing.
“Without you guys, we wouldn’t be here,” Rebecca said.
The presentations by the students kicked off the professional development day for teacher assistants, held at G.R. Davis school with the theme “Today is your day.”
Close to 80 teacher assistants from schools across Livingstone Range attended the event, which included sessions on topics such as inclusion; stress management; technology; building relationships; sensory needs of students; teaching First Nations students; and the Discovery Education Network.
“It’s really important for us to be updated on what is new in education so that we can do a really good job,” said Margery Wiig, chair of the professional development committee.
The day was intended to broaden the understanding of teacher assistants of new directions in education.
The event was also designed to inspire and energize teacher assistants.
“I think it’s really important for us to get together as TAs throughout the division,” said Wiig of the benefit of bringing people who do the same job in different schools together. “I think it’s worthwhile for us to get together as a group. We have the privilege of working one-on-one with children.”
The four students talked about their lives and provided affirmation of the important work done by teacher assistants.
Keith Van Rootselaar, 18, talked about being in Grade 11 at Willow Creek Composite, working at UFA, Subway and Sobey’s and calling bingo for residents at Parkside Manor through the school’s work experience program, doing the school’s recycling program.
Keith, who is non-verbal but communicates clearly through a program on his iPod, talked about playing floor hockey, lifting weights, participating in 4-H and riding his quad.
Seventeen-year-old Keith plans to move to Lethbridge and get a job stocking shelves and bagging groceries in a grocery store.
“With all the help from the staff at the school, my family and my iPod, I feel I will be successful in my future,” Keith said.
Alexander McCulloch, 22, who has autism, talked about going to Willow Creek Composite and later Olds College, his black belts in tae kwon do and karate and his accomplishments as a swimmer.
“They’re really awesome,” McCulloch said of teacher assistants. “They’re a person you can depend on, someone you can trust. Someone you can talk to about any problem you have.”