Sunday, September 13, 2015

Make Your Passion Your Paycheck

Post by Matt Johnson: Matt is in his 5th year serving as a Paraeducator at Bettendorf High School. You can follow Matt on Twitter @BHSMattJohnson

Too many of my friends and acquaintances become very negative when the subject of their jobs come up. They are ready to talk about the drudgery of their commutes, how they feel underappreciated or how terribly their bosses treat them. If you were to look back into my life, that might have been a conversation we had years ago. Thanks in part to a dedicated and passionate educator I know, one I ultimately married, I made a choice that led me to a new career path that is positive, fulfilling and humbling. 
This year will be my fifth year working as a Educational Support Professional or Paraeducator. I share these hallways with 26 other amazing paraeducators. I can say with certainty that each of them is passionate about helping our students succeed. You'll find women and men both young and wise here. We have essential roles of reading tests, scribing, or even interpreting for those with hearing disabilities, and so much more.

My former life as a cubicle dweller left me unfulfilled and overwhelmed. However, when you spend the day with students, something amazing happens. In return for the variety of support we give students, they give us an enormous sense of purpose and pride. It's no coincidence that our mantra at Bettendorf Community Schools is "Passion, Purpose, Pride". Watch just one student reach their goals and you would feel it too. Do it day after day and those words resonate within you.
As paraeducators, we celebrate our victories loudly, but we are not without rough days too.  We can find ourselves discouraged and question our methods. We invest months and sometimes years on building rapport. When you experience a breakthrough that changes the dynamic toward the positive, you no longer question yourself, you go back to celebrating today's victory and move forward. We know great challenges are just around the next corner.  Our resolve in working for Bettendorf Schools gives us the experience, community and culture to overcome any obstacle.
All of our students need a strong support network to ensure their success. Our students with disabilities not only need support but also understanding and compassion. Despite a perception that they might be unable to do what other students do, they certainly can succeed in the right environment. That's what we're here for. I now have this amazing career where I watch struggling students become successes. 
These days you won't hear me complaining about my job. That's never really been who I am. You would be more likely to find me trying to wipe the smile off my face. That smile is from an enormous sense of pride and satisfaction in being given the opportunity to influence our youth here at Bettendorf High School. As it turns out, my background in marketing has come in useful; today I'm helping market the most important resource we have, our students!

1 comment:

  1. Well said Matt!! Speaking for all the Paras at BHS...Thanks for the props!!