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Tuesday June 16, 2015 Edition
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The Power Of The Paras Meet Andrea And Andrea

Andrea Eaton.
photo by Photo Provided
Andrea Eaton.

Tuesday June 16, 2015

By Cookie Steponaitis

Andrea Eaton and Andrea Teer have many things in common. They have had incredible careers as paraprofessionals in Addison County, share a passion for supporting and advocating for students across all subject matters and are moving on from their long time roles in our local schools.
    Andrea Teer began her career in special education in Burlington’s Early Essential Education (EEE) program in 1977. She first worked with three to five year olds with significant developmental delays and stayed with the program until 1989 and the birth of her twins. Teer returned to work when the twins were five, started in kindergarten at Ferrisburgh Central School with them and has been a part of the lives of children at Ferrisburgh Central School for over twenty years. “I’ve supported students in grades K-6 and have worked with individual students and small groups in reading, math and writing skills. One of the best things about being a paraeducator is working one on one with students. I am able to build strong bonds with children because I work so closely with them. It has been very fulfilling work in the town I’ve lived in for thirty-five years connecting with my neighbors and giving back to the children in my community."
    Andrea Eaton is leaving her position at Vergennes Union Middle School to move with her family to another New England State. Eaton specializes in not only working one on one but with groups of students in all disciplines. While Eaton has only been at VUMS for five years she brings a wealth of experience to her position from being a Certified Occupational Therapist and finds the paraprofessional field rewarding in many ways. “Being a para allows you to make a difference in people's lives,” shared Andrea Eaton. “You get to help kids feel successful and build up their self-esteem. To me there is nothing more rewarding then making someone feel good about themselves. Getting these kids to see themselves be successful opens opportunities for them in the future. I went into OT because I wanted to help people overcome their obstacles and give them strength to get through the tough times. Being a para allows me to continue down this path and help those students who are struggling to get stronger in those areas of difficulty and persevere. I also get the opportunity to advocate for them and to make sure they are being challenged but have what they need to be successful. Making a connection with my students is key for me to do my job. It's hard to know what their needs are if you don't understand who they are and how they think.”
    Both Andreas find the job stays fresh and challenging because no two days are alike and present different learning experiences. “Working with children has kept my brain young and allowed me to continue my own journey as a student and a lifelong learner,” concluded Andrea Teer.  Eaton echoed many of these same sentiments and remarked, “I've learned a lot from the teachers and students over the years. In this role you work closely with the students and the teachers so you get to experience the classroom from both perspectives. In a lot of ways this role feels like a puzzle and you're pulling some pieces from the teachers and matching them up with the strengths of the students.  An added bonus is the schedule. I get to do what I enjoy and still have time to spend with my kids!”
    As the school year closes the Valley Voice would like to thank Andrea Teer, Andrea Eaton and all those who work in the paraprofessional field for their dedication, flexibility and incredible problem solving skills. Working in concert with teachers these professionals are anchor points in the lives of many children and serve as a bridge between home and school, curriculum and staff and in many cases work one on one through some of the most important years in a child’s life.

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