Paraprofessional Support Day honors paras on Feb. 11


Hiba Abbas

Every weekday morning, Mrs. Manon Clavette arrives early to RHS to make adjusted copies for her special education students. Then, she travels from classroom to classroom, assisting students in their school day. Her goal is to help make the students she works with successful adults in the future.

“When the [kids] accomplish something, you feel proud of yourself, like ‘they made it,’ ‘they did that,’” Mrs. Clavette said. “It’s fun to see them improve.”

Mrs. Clavette’s goals for her students are both educational and social.

“My goal is for the kids to be more independent because outside nobody will help them,” Mrs. Clavette said. “I tell them at the beginning of every semester that their goal is to be more independent.”

Support for the special education students is also heavily conducted in the peer mentor program, taught by Mrs. Amy Cosentino. Senior Emma Luttrell explains her experience in the class.

“It opened my eyes because a lot of people won’t go out of their way to interact with them; they’re really no different,” Luttrell said. “It’s a good feeling because with kids with special needs in your class, you don’t really get to one on one work with them, but here you do.”

Senior Hannah Vilotti describes the special education students’ responses to the help they receive from the paras.

“I think it’s really great because the kids respond more when people help them,” Vilotti said. “They’re so cute. They say thank you all the time, even for the smallest things.”

Paraprofessional Support Day is held once a year to recognize the hard working paraprofessional community of RHS. This year it was Feb. 11. The special education staff celebrate this occasion with an honorable ceremony, organized by Mrs. Cosentino.

“We have a special luncheon for them in their honor between the special ed staff, the administrators, the ELL department and the media center,” Mrs. Cosentino said. “We all kind of come together and everyone brings in some delicious, homemade dish. My students make a big banner and cards, and treat them special, and I think we have the best paras. We’re so thankful to have them.”

Mrs. Cosentino’s dedication to her work for students with disabilities continues to grow stronger, one year after another.

“When I was in high school I was in student council and we volunteered at Special Olympics, and then I was hooked. I fell in love with these guys,” Mrs.Cosentino said. “I’ve been doing it for 26 years, and I still love every single day. I really do. I’m so passionate. I just love them so much, and we have a lot of fun together.”

Senior Megan Vanderhoof, also a peer mentor, explains her reasoning for pursuing a career in working with others.

“I worked with a down syndrome kid in second grade, and that was fun to see him develop as we got to high school, and [I wanted] to see if that would be the same rewarding feeling. It’s really good to communicate and see them developing and learn,” Vanderhoof said. “I’m thinking about going into physical therapy, so not necessarily working with kids in a classroom, but working with their disabilities physically.”

The student body does not fail to impress Mrs. Cosentino when it comes to helping out the special education kids.

“This is the best school ever. They are so kind; they watch out for each other. I couldn’t work at a better place,” Mrs. Cosentino said. “Many of these kids have grown up together so they don’t treat them any different. It’s a great school.”

She goes on to express her satisfaction for what she does, and her favorite part of her job.

“Just seeing them become independent because they come in here as freshmen, afraid, and when they’re ready to leave, they’re independent,” Mrs. Cosentino said. “I’m lucky to keep them for four years because I get to see them grow. I feel like my special ed. kids make me a better person because I learn from them everyday. I see them try so hard and they love school, you can’t not be happy.”

The special education staff expresses their gratitude to RHS for the support by the student body for kids with disabilities.

“I think Mrs. Clavette and Mrs. Cosentino are awesome,” Vanderhoof said. “I love working with them.”