Ed assistants pleased with training pilot

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Education Assistants are finding that the work in the classroom is more complex than their training. High Prairie School Division (HPSD) has a pilot program to help.

EAs can start without any training or take a 10-month college course, which includes practicums.

HPSD is about half-way through a pilot training course for its EAs.

Assistant superintendent Pamela Heckbert and education assistant leads from four communities presented to the HPSD board at its March 19 meeting.

The leads are HPSD EAs, who have taken on the mentorship role on top of their regular work. The training is available to EAs in all schools across the division on a voluntary basis. The EA leads work out of their normal schools, but help EAs at other schools as well.

The leads are Jacqui Laliberte (École Routhier School), Angie Halverson (Prairie River Junior High School), Trudi Wild (Kinuso School), and Kristie DeChamplain (C.J. Schurter School).

Over 50 EAs have signed up for the training across the division. These have a mix of experience, with many having worked as an EA for over five years.

“They’re very excited to see how it moves forward,” said Wild.

Why aren’t all of the EAs doing the training? asked trustee Karin Scholl.

The pilot started partway through the year, said Heckbert. Many of the school administrators didn’t have enough money to take the EA out of the classroom to be able to do the training. Some are doing it on their own time.

During the presentation, the EAs mentioned the need for more medical support training.

Slave Lake trustee Cory Hughes asked about this.

Some of the kids in the school have a lot of medical needs, such as a feeding tubes and hearing aids. The parents are used to helping them with these, but it can be overwhelming for EAs, because they don’t have medical training.

One of the goals of the pilot is to move toward “the professionalization of EAs in the division,” said HPSD superintendent Murray Murran.

Is this the right first step? he asked the EA leads.

They thought it was.

One mentioned that an EA with no experience started a while ago and didn’t last long. However, they figure that if the training and mentors were in place, that person would have stayed.

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