2010-06-10 / Letters to the Editor

Assistants help schools’ learning environment

Who are the Houghton Lake Community School (HLCS) Assistants and what do they do?

First of all they are the only group of Houghton Lake Community Schools employees who all live at Houghton Lake. They have raised their children, who attended HLCS, here and many now have grandchildren in HLCS. The assistants are homeowners and pay taxes.

The HLCS assistants are the group of employees to be cut the most in the family of the HLCS. In 2003 there were 51 assistants. Now there are only 16 fulltime and two part-time positions. The finance committee now has proposed to eliminate all but seven positions for the 2010-2011 school year.

What do the teacher assistants do daily?

They supervise before school, lunch and recess with ratio as low as 1:100 plus students at a time.

They work individually with students who might need that little extra nudge, attention and help in the classroom.

They work with behavioral problem children to keep all students safe.

They work with autistic, emotionally impaired and learning disabled children.

They are the extra ears, eyes and hands to assist teachers, and deterrents to bullying.

They may answer a phone, run a quick copy, and pull out or stay with a student that is disrupting the class.

They also change diapers, do catheterizations; give shots for diabetic children, bandage students, and perform non-invasive medical procedures.

Throughout the day they monitor hallways, carry out lesson plans for teachers, reinforce goals and objectives in the classroom, record and report on services for students and participate in professional development whenever they can.

They assist and prepare documents on students’ behavior and progress, interact and communicate with parents, students, staff and administration. They perform any tasks assigned by the principal.

They are willing to learn and use techniques used with ADD, ADHD and emotionally impaired children. They use behavior managing techniques when needed. They are one-on-one with special needs children when needed. They direct students with computers. They understand and respect student and staff confidentiality.

They lock the doors when school starts; they administer Star reading and math tests; read tests to students that need that help.

They inventory library materials and maintain the library.

Every assistant is highly qualified and certified. They took the required tests at their own expense and take training when offered, in fact have asked to have more training.

HLCS assistants are for the betterment of all HLCS students. They are here for all students, to help assist them to be future Houghton Lake community members. The HLCS teacher assistants are there to help make the school a safe learning environment for everyone and to assist everyone to be their best.

Can all of this be achieved with only seven trained assistants for the whole district? What is best for Houghton Lake Community Schools, and most importantly the children?

Name withheld by request.

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