Albert Lea paraeducator enjoys helping students through school program

Published 9:46 am Friday, January 27, 2017

This week is Paraeducators Week. Nearly 100 paraeducators in the Albert Lea Area Schools district provide support, behavior support, and social and physical skills to students.

For one Albert Lea special education paraeducator, the week symbolizes her effort to help students throughout the year.

Terri Wichmann assists students with emotional behavior disorder in the Options Program at Lakeview Elementary School.

“I love what I do,” Wichmann said “It’s really rewarding working with the kids and seeing their progress.”

She focuses on improving social interaction and helping students control negative emotions.

“I see more emotional growth, a lot of emotional growth.” she said.

Wichmann enjoys seeing her students grow academically and socially. She works with students in improving social interaction and helping students calm down when they are frustrated,

“Just to see them grow, see them excel,” she said. “Maybe when they first started they were really quiet and shy. To see them blossom, grow up.

“I just love these kids.”

This is Wichmann’s 12th year as a paraeducator in the district and fifth year working with students in the program.

Six children are in the program at Lakeview. The program is also offered at Southwest Middle School and Albert Lea High School.

“I really enjoy it,” Wichmann said. “I enjoy seeing the kids and building that bond with them. I feel it is really important for them to feel safe and comfortable and have that bond with them. That will help them succeed later in life.

“I hope that they learn something and that they’re happy. That’s our goal, to make them turn out to be happy, educated kids, and that’s what my goal is for them.”

Paraeducators are usually assigned to several students and assist them with moving from one setting to another in a school building, said Albert Lea Director of Special Services Tami Alphs.

She said there other ways paraeducators assist students at the district:

• In all aspects, depending on the specific student need

• Students with special needs

• Reinforcing skills and assisting students in completing work

• Documenting student progress and charting behaviors

• Assisting with student supervision during lunch and recess, arriving and departing from school, and movement in hallways

“Paraeducators are an important asset to our district,” Alphs said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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