Mansfield ISD Magazine Fall 2019 - Page 9

PARAPROFESSIONALS RECEIVE SCHOLARSHIP TO BECOME TEACHERS Three Mansfield ISD staff members are in the process of receiving their teaching certification for free. The growth opportunity is part of the Frances Brownlie Para to Professional Scholarship Program. Under the program, a qualified paraprofessional with a bachelor’s degree who wants to become a certified teacher can do so by taking classes through Tarleton State University. The program is paid for by the MISD Education Foundation, which received private donations to make the scholarship possible. “It was the brainchild of Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas,” explained Lynn Wilkie, executive director of the Mansfield ISD Education Foundation. “He really wanted to get a program to help our paraprofessionals continue their education. We’re very grateful to our donors for making this vision come to life.” Those enrolled in the program said it is a life-changing endeavor that they would not have been able to do otherwise. “The usual requirement for becoming a teacher is to take off a semester to do your student teaching, and you don’t get paid,” said Alicia Boen, special education co-education teacher at Cross Timbers Intermediate School. “Being a single mom, I never would have been able to do that.” Participants undergo an application process in order to get the opportunity to be certified in special education, math, science or bilingual education. The district hopes to place more paraprofessionals into the program to continue the culture of being a lifelong learner. The students are also given mentors and field supervisors for extra support and encouragement. teachers, as professionals. It means a lot to me and makes me want to be a part of this district even more.” “It feels fantastic. It feels like you’re supported in your growth, and it feels like you’re a part of this big team, and everybody helps you,” said Karina Ardizzi, a teacher’s aide at Judy K. Miller Elementary School. Wilkie said the MISD Education Foundation is mostly known for the grants it gives to classrooms, but now the organization is able to reach out to help staff members pursue their dreams through the Para to Professional Program. Upon completion of the Para to Professional Program, the staff members will be considered for the next available teaching position in their specialization. They’ll also be only three to four classes away from getting a master’s degree in education. “Our district really does care about every one of its employees, whether it’s from the lowest one on the totem pole to the highest one in the district,” said Pauline Quinones, a teacher’s aide at Mary Orr Intermediate School. “They’re trying to help us grow as people, as “ Our district really does care about every one of its employees, whether it’s from the lowest one on the totem pole to the highest one in the district. PAULINE QUINONES TEACHER’S AIDE MARY ORR INTERMEDIATE MANSFIELDTODAY 9