Special Education and Peer Aides

Kelly L

Learning to be patient and put other students needs before your own is the perfect way to start or end the day for the peers and special education teachers at PLHS.  

The peers and staff involved in helping the students learn and grow begin to appreciate every individual personality and develop relationships that benefit both student and teacher.  

Being a peer aide at PLHS is an amazing way to help the students further their interactions beyond the teachers and give them a friend that they can look forward to seeing throughout the day. 

“I love being a helpful friend to the students who are all special in their own ways,” Junior Kelsey Joslin said. 

When working with these students, the way they perform the tasks can be different for eachandevery one of them. It becomes an accomplishment for the student and teacher to work for independence.  

“My favorite part of working with the students is their carefree lifestyle and when I can see a new skill that can translate to independence,” Special Education teacher Samantha Deck said.  

Although working with the students is very rewarding, each day will be different and will not always be a walk in the park. Each student, peer, and teacher have their own strengths and difficulties that they continue to work on.  

“I struggle with knowing what they are capable of and continuing my patience throughout the class period,” Joslin said.  

It also takes a lot of different qualities to meet the students needs to the best of your ability. It can take some mistakes and experience to feel confident in the environment 

“One of the qualities that I think is most important is patience. It may take students a minute to get the hang of doing a task,” Joslin said. “Another quality is being helpful. If you see a student that needs help you can’t just sit and watch them struggle.”  

The teachers and paraprofessionals involved in helping the students can also struggle with providing for every student and making sure the time is used adequately. 

“Some of the most common struggles is having enough support in classes, all the different individual needs for each student, keeping everyone safe, and not enough time to get all the students needs met,” Deck said.  

Whether you are an aide or a teacher for the students, every class spent with them is a learning experience. Every situation will teach you to think on your feet while also becoming a flexible learner. 

“I have learned that you need to have back-up plans every day for class and go with the flow,” Deck said. “You also need to learn to work on a team every class period and learn the adaptive equipment and communication devices.” 

Without the help of the peers and teachers it would be nearly impossible to deliver these exceptional learning and communication skills. 

In the end, the Special Education program at PLHS has accomplished so much throughout the years. They have built an amazing peer program to help each student become more involved. Another big accomplishment which happened just last year, was becoming a Unified Champion School which shows how hard eachandevery individual involved has worked to make the school we are today.