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Meet Sheena: Paraeducator

Meet Sheena: Paraeducator

March 1 is Employee Appreciation Day! We are celebrating our team members all month long by sharing their stories. Read more about Sheena Watkins, Paraeducator, who treats her students with respect and always makes time for them. 

What is your favorite thing about working here?   

We are like a family here. This school is a community. I love all of the students and I am so happy every time I walk through the door.  

What keeps you coming to work each day?  

The students keep me motivated. I work with students from kindergarten all the way through high school. I try to greet everyone that I see and get them excited in the morning. You never know if someone is having a bad day. Saying, “Good morning” to them can change their day around.  

How do you make an impact on students’ lives?   

I make an impact by treating the students with respect, dignity, and pride. Regardless of them having autism or emotional support issues, I treat them how I want to be treated. I don’t treat them as if they have some sort of diagnosis, because that isn’t fair to them.  

Last year, we rolled out our BetterTogether guiding principles. Which one of our values resonates with you most personally and why? (Integrity, Accountable, Collaborative, Inclusive, Supportive)   

I feel like I fit into all of them. I am very nurturing to the students. I am collaborative in the sense that I am always willing to assist with anything that needs support. Whenever we get new staff, they come to me a lot for help and questions. Many of them think I am a supervisor because of how happy and jittery I am! 

What does a “day in the life” look like for your role?   

I am the students’ mother, friend, and mentor. I am always here to talk with them or play games wit them. The moment I walk through the door, I leave everything on my mind outside and I am focused on the students and making sure they have a positive day.  

Can you talk a little bit about your career trajectory and what led you to where you are now?   

I worked in special education since I was 19 years old. I knew this was something I wanted to do because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I love seeing that I have impacted so many students. I have seen some former students in places like the mall and reaching out to me on social media to tell me that they appreciate all the things I have done. I am currently enrolled in school to become a special education teacher. In the next three years, I will be a teacher here at Green Tree School! 

What has been your proudest moment or accomplishment in your role?  

My proudest moment was when one of the students here refused to talk to anyone. But the moment they saw me, they wanted to talk. I walked up, and he came over, hugged me and asked to speak with me. I didn’t ask what was going on. I saw by his face that he wanted to talk, and he came over to me and we had a conversation. He wasn’t even one of my students and he never opened up to people. So, for him to open up to me, it showed that I am someone who won’t judge others and will always make time for my students.  

What is something about you that not many people know?   

Growing up, I wanted to be a singer.  

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