The specialized educational assistant makes the school a place of welcome | Herald of Copperas Cove


Upon returning to campus this school year, Elementary Hettie Halstead paraprofessional Sonya Sheehan said her goal was to create an environment that makes students and staff happy as they walk through front doors and makes them want to be in school. She and another paraprofessional redecorated the entire teachers’ room.

Sheehan’s husband handcrafted a new table to organize and hold coffee supplies. The school has been decorated with fun and festive colorful creations to welcome the students again and keep them excited about coming to school every day.

“Ms. Sheehan spends countless hours of her time creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for students and staff,” said Principal Billie Diaz. “We have appointed her our official party organizer and ‘Fixer Superior Queen “.”

Sheehan encourages students to come to school every day so that they can learn. She worked at Hettie Halstead Elementary School for four years, as an educational paraprofessional and special education paraprofessional.

“Ms. Sheehan uses her talents to help students discover theirs,” said Diaz. “She devotes her time and energy each day to the students in her charge, while also meeting the individual needs of many. Sonya knows how when to intervene; sometimes it is a complex social situation, a problem with attention in the classroom, or a lesson in life.

She is calm and patient in crises as well as in boredom. Many of the students she serves have difficulty with executive function skills. Ms. Sheehan helps them get organized, keep track of assignments and bathroom breaks. She encourages students to keep their desks tidy and to prepare for class.

CaRhonda Parham worked as a school counselor with Sheehan and describes her as a “sincere hero”.

“Paraprofessionals follow the instructions of teachers and administrators, but also face difficult choices when working one-on-one with students,” Parham said. “Sonya does a great job when it comes to being a team player. She is able to act as an intermediary, linking concerns and observations, to the supervising teachers.

“I love that she is creative when it comes to decorating the school for holidays, cultural events, school board lunches, classrooms and many other special occasions. She offers creative solutions on the spot and executes those ideas on weekends or late at night after finishing her official day.

“She took our 60 year old school and turned the interior into a place that many teachers and students call home, Monday through Friday 7 am to 4 pm, a beautiful and comfortable place to learn and grow. “

Sheehan was named the Hettie Halstead Paraprofessional of the Year for Elementary of the Year 2021.

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