Administrator’s Corner: Albert Lea’s paraprofessionals make a difference

Published 8:00 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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Administrator’s Corner by Sheila Riebe

Minnesota celebrates the contributions of paraprofessionals as Governor Walz proclaimed Jan. 23-29 as Paraprofessional Recognition Week.

Sheila Riebe

Paraprofessionals fulfill a variety of roles in our classrooms. Under the guidance and supervision of special educators, paraprofessionals help children assimilate and learn alongside their peers. Many paraprofessionals work primarily or exclusively with students who have special educational needs. Their duties vary according to the needs of the student from physical assistance and care to behavioral management and academic support.

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The paraprofessional position does not require a license. In Minnesota, paraprofessionals must meet the requirements of Minnesota Statutes section 120B.363. To work as an instructional paraprofessional in a program using Title I, Part A funds, the Code of Federal Regulations requires:

• At least two years of college credits (usually 60 credits in Minnesota) through an accredited institution of higher education; or

• An associate’s or higher degree; or

• A passing score on a valid and reliable formal assessment demonstrating knowledge and ability to assist with instruction in reading/language arts, writing, mathematics or readiness for each.

In Albert Lea Area Schools, the formal assessment through The Master Teacher is used, which includes 150 self-paced courses covering both general and special education environments. The courses are tailored and address the needs for the paraprofessionals. The Albert Lea school district uses the courses as a part of paraprofessional professional development. This valuable training tool reviews and reinforces the necessary skills for our paraprofessionals and provides resources to keep our paraprofessionals highly qualified.

There are many programs that prepare paraprofessionals to earn the credentials to become a successful special educator. Region 10 Low Incidence projects partners with the Minnesota Department of Education, local school districts and the regional colleges and universities to support special education teacher preparation programs. One program offered is New Year! New U!, which is a collaborative effort to recruit candidates seeking a professional special education career. This free event includes advisors from seven universities who provide their information regarding initial or additional licensure programs. Information about financial services is also presented by Region 10, Education Minnesota and Minnesota Department of Education. Some programs assist paraprofessionals who are interested in entering the teaching profession by providing stipends, scholarships, unique student teaching or field placement experiences, and other options to help them in pursuing a career in education.

If you are interested in becoming a paraprofessional in Albert Lea Area Schools, please visit our website at, scroll to the bottom and choose Careers. You will see our current open positions. If you have any questions, please contact the Special Services office at 507-379-4822.

I would like to give a huge shoutout and a heartfelt thank you to each of our amazing paraprofessionals for all they do for students and fellow staff. They approach each day with passion and joy. Thank you for making a difference!

Sheila Riebe is the executive director of Special Services with Albert Lea Area Schools.