News Archives: GPRC Among Alberta Post-secondary Institutions Celebrating Educational Assistants' Day
Released: Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Educational Assistants are an important component of today's classroom, providing the extra support and attention required to help some children succeed. Certificate and diploma programs at colleges throughout the province prepare Educational Assistants through courses ranging from behavior to math skills, to ensure graduates are well-prepared to enter the workplace.
"Educational Assistants' Day" has been named by participating post-secondary institutions to honour the graduates of these programs, and to bring some recognition to one of the less visible education services.
The Educational Assistant typically provides individual and small group support within the school setting.
Karen Gordon, who completed the GPRC certificate program last year, is among them. Practicum placements which are part of the program led to an interest in speech therapy, and she is now working in the public school system while completing a second credential through Grant MacEwan: Speech Language Pathologist Assistant.
"My typical day includes preparation for each student's therapy, then working with the students in 30 minute sessions - individually or 2 at a time, depending upon the level of difficulty," Gordon explains. She picks each child up from the classroom, and they go to a quiet location for a session of activities and games to reinforce learning.
"This extra practice has a huge impact on their learning," says Gordon. "Even just a few months makes a big difference." As an SLPA Gordon works under the guidance of the speech pathologist who regularly visits the students to assess progress and help set goals and programs.
"When I first started the Educational Assistant program I had no idea what it would lead to," says Gordon, "but the minute I was job-shadowing the speech assistant I knew right there that this was what I wanted to do. It is great working with these little people - it is a fun job; I love it!"
The Educational Assistant program has been offered at GPRC since 2002 and was designed to prepare people like Karen Gordon to work in educational settings. "Graduates enter the workplace with an understanding of the various disciplines in a school, particularly those who work with children who have disabilities, and are prepared with the knowledge and skills to help children with everything from remedial reading or math to implementing a speech pathologists plan," explains Pat Caulfield Fontaine, an instructor and Chair of the department. "Our students bring a perspective and experience (200 hours practicum) to the classroom that enables the children to achieve their goals."