We caught up with Sheila Sanoski at the elementary school where she works as an Education Assistant in the kindergarten class supporting a young boy with special needs, as well as working with other students in the class, like Hazel.
Sheila is one of the first graduates of our Education Assistant Certificate, which launched in the fall of 2012. She completed the certificate last June and quickly was able to secure a position with the school district in her home town.
Sheila had been working in educational institutions for 10 years in an administrative capacity. She was acclimated to the academic year and found it a good fit for her family. She has two children who attend the same school and has been an active volunteer in their classrooms.
“I was always inspired by the school staff,” Sheila says. “I saw the difference they made in children’s lives. I was happy to be able to enrol in a program that fit with my family’s schedule and still allowed me to do what I love – working with children.”
Sheila found the practicum portion of the Education Assistant Certificate to be invaluable. “Being in the classroom was essential in preparing to be an Education Assistant. And I was able to include the teachers’ evaluations in my portfolio.”
Sheila is a strong believer in providing effective support to special needs children so they can be included in regular classrooms. She comes down firmly on the side of integration in the debate about inclusion.
“In the concept of universal design, you take everyone’s needs into account,” she says. “Classrooms are enriched by diversity, by meeting every child’s needs, including those with high needs: not just children with autism but those with behavioural issues and physical disabilities as well.”
Watch more of Sheila’s story.
– by Karen McCarthy