By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Atlanta Public Schools proudly salutes paraprofessionals across the District. In recognition of Paraprofessional Appreciation Day, which was celebrated earlier this month, APS honors the nearly 600 full-time and hourly paraprofessionals who provide support to our teachers in the classroom every day to ensure every student succeeds.
One such paraprofessional is Regina Edward, who works as a pre-K parapro at Garden Hills Elementary School. A paraprofessional since 2016, Edward previously served a pre-school director, pre-school teacher, and an applied behavior analyst for children requiring specialized behavioral and academic therapy before starting her career at APS.
Having spent her entire career working with young children, Edward will tell anyone who asks that her work as a paraprofessional is more than just a job – it is a mission.
In fact, it was Edward’s love for education, as well as her passion and commitment to working with children in the public sector that ultimately led her to APS.
“This is where I wanted to be,” said Edward, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in general and special education from Mercer University. “I love seeing children’s growth and I love working with English Language Learners. To see these children blossom to where they begin talking and writing sentences is amazing.”
In her role as a pre-K paraprofessional, Edward assists lead teacher Jessica Bergstrom with a classroom of 22 children in providing small-group instruction, classroom management, as well as addressing behavioral issues.
“She’s an awesome teacher,” Edward said of her colleague. “Our goal is to do what’s best for the children.”
Garden Hills Principal Stacey Abbott contends that Edward is just as talented of a professional.
“Regina is amazing,” Abbott said. “When you’re in the classroom, you never know who is the teacher and who is the parapro. She and the teacher both equal. In addition to that, our parents love her. She’s really an angel. You can see the wings as she walks down the hall.”
Edward aspires to become the type of educator who inspires students based on her belief that all children can succeed.
“I want to be that teacher who goes the extra mile, and I hope to live up those expectations,” said Edward, who will graduate in 2019. “The day I lose passion for what I do is the day I no longer want to work with children.”