Friday, Jan. 30


The unsung heroes in Lincoln's
public school system    
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[JAN. 30, 2004]  The unsung heroes in Lincoln's public school system have got to be the teacher aides. District 27 Superintendent Dr. Robert Kidd stated that the district employs 30 teacher assistants, evenly distributed across the district in all the schools.

Most teacher aides work with the special education classes and a couple work in kindergarten and first grade. The aides in the special needs classroom do educational work and also help with feeding, wheelchairs, reaching things and any other help the students might need. The aides working with younger children use reading readiness programs, including Writing to Read and Sequoia.

Mrs. Becker, principal for Jefferson and Northwest schools, said that the aides are very helpful across the board in various areas. The regular classroom aides work in tutorial programs helping the students to improve in areas that they struggle in, such as reading or math.

Writing to Read aides work in the computer lab and have had some technological training as well, as the No Child Left Behind Act requires.

Aides also help in the cafeteria and at recess in supervisory roles, making sure students are not breaking the rules or getting out of control. Just as the classroom aides and special needs aides, Mrs. Becker said, there is a library aide who works between the two schools to provide help with checking out materials and cataloging for both the school library and the parent resource library that are available in these schools.

Becker said the funding for salaries for these teachers comes primarily from Title I, a federally funded program, with salaries for special needs aides coming from the special education funding.


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Kidd said that under the No Child Left Behind Act, teacher aides must have an associate's degree or be able to pass a test that has been established by the State Board of Education to show that they are highly qualified to work in this area. Most of the aides in Lincoln have met the requirements and two more are working on it. These qualifications must be met by 2006, and Dr. Kidd says he has no doubt that all of the aides currently employed will meet qualifications by the deadline.

Kidd said that an interesting side note is that many aides have studied at Lincoln College for their associate's degree and have been inspired to go on to college and become a lead teacher. He hopes these individuals will be inspirational to encourage students who are unsure about college to go ahead and give it a try, since some of them had previously thought that they couldn't handle college or wouldn't enjoy it.

Clearly the teachers, staff and students of Logan County would be lost without these dedicated workers who are largely unseen and unrecognized. Without these dedicated workers, many of Lincoln's students would not have as much assistance and help with programs that they need. The aides are to be commended for their hard work and dedication to a job that is not glamorous and often not appreciated.

[Ruth Halpin]

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