The Unnoticed Professionals

Paraprofessional: a person whose job is to assist a professional person.

Every day, Monday through Friday, school Paraprofessionals report to their job sites to begin a new day.  In our district the various duties that Paraprofessionals carryout include: playground and lunch duty, computer lab technician, librarian, one on one aides, speech aides, ELL assistants, SPED assistants and classroom assistants.

I have had the honor of working with many of our Paraprofessionals in our district and I am awestruck at their resourcefulness in order to get their assignments completed.  For example, the Paraprofessionals do not have an assigned room that they can call home, so they find any unused building space and they create an office and a pleasant learning environment for students.  Another example of resourcefulness that I observe is seeing Paraprofessionals transporting their instructional materials in various types of containers and moving from classroom to classroom. In addition, one Paraprofessional keeps instructional materials in her car due to having to travel between the high school, which is one mile away and another elementary school within the district that is ten miles away.  These challenges are faced by our Paraprofessionals everyday as they perform their duties to the best of their abilities while doing so with a smile.

Not only are our Paraprofessionals required to provide instructional time for our students, they conduct hearing and vision screenings at all three schools in the district and they must maintain records and file reports in a timely manner.  And despite their busy schedules, they manage to find time to collect dues for the social committee, coordinate monthly potlucks, and decorate the lounge with seasonal themes.

Professional: (1) characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, school Paraprofessionals throughout the country can be classified as professionals in the various jobs that they undertake.

To all the School Professionals who interact with students, thanks for the talents that you bring to our schools and for all that you do.


Recently, Mrs. G, a district employee of 35 years retired.  During her retirement party, she reflected on her time with the district and she stated that many of our elementary teachers that she assisted in the classroom were students when she began working for the district.  Although retired, you still see Mrs. G around campus now volunteering her time.  Thank you Mrs. G for giving so much of yourself to our students for the past 35 years.


Manuel Chavez

Manuel Chavez

San Manuel, AZ

My name is Manuel Michael Chavez Jr. My greatest contribution to education is being able to relate my 20 years of work experience to my students, which I obtained while working for Magma/BHP Copper, one of the largest underground copper mines in the world. My intentions had been to work for Magma Copper Company for the summer and return to school the following fall to pursue my dream of becoming an educator. Twenty years later, I was still employed with Magma Copper and had held various underground mining positions with the last position being a heavy equipment mechanic. In 1999, the mine announced complete closure and I had been forced and given a second opportunity to pursue my dream. What a bittersweet life-changing event in my life. I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science degree in education from NAU and have been teaching for the Mammoth-San Manuel Unified School District in Southwest Arizona for nine years and am pursuing National Board Certification. In 2009, I was selected as an Ambassador for Excellence for the Arizona Educational Foundation and currently sit on the Board of Directors for Sun Life Family Health Care Clinics and the WestEd organization. It is my belief that by intertwining my classroom lessons with my own life experiences and providing my students real world life scenarios, students become engaged in the lessons and develop a desire to learn.

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