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To honor the important work of our employees, we recognize outstanding substitute teachers, paraeducators, and support staff through our annual Substitute Educator of the Year program. Brandy Parr, a paraeducator in Ozark, Alabama, is the winner of our 2022 Substitute Educator of the Year award in the Paraeducator category.
In this Q&A, Brandy shares what she enjoys the most about being a paraeducator and her advice for students.
Why did you become a paraeducator?
I had always wanted to work in education, especially special education. This opportunity was literally thrown into my lap at D.A. Smith Middle School. I was laid off from my previous job due to COVID-19. I heard Kelly Services needed paraprofessionals and I needed a job in the worst way. I was meant to be right where I am. My heart is full!
What do you enjoy the most about being a paraeducator in a self-contained class?
This is the only job I have ever had that I can honestly say I enjoy every day, even on the bad days. And when you are dealing with a wide range of disabilities within the classroom, some days are better than others. I love each of my students. At the end of the day, when a student looks at me and says, “I love you, Mrs. Brandy” or “I drew you a picture because you are my favorite, Mrs. Brandy,” I know I have made a difference in the lives of my students.
My family and fellow educators have said that I have really blessed my classroom kids. I tend to disagree - they have blessed me. I affectionately call my students my “classroom babies” because I truly love and am devoted to each one. In the words of Temple Grandin, my special students are “different, not less.”
“My daily goal is to teach my students that they are individually capable of doing great things in life, and what makes them different is what makes them awesome!”
What advice do you have for students?
Be yourself, and the right people will love you just the way you are.
Is there a teacher from your childhood that stands out in your memories?
Mrs. Jerry Rogers was an amazing 5th grade social studies teacher. I remember her smiling face the moment we walked through her door. She was firm, but very loving towards even the most misbehaved students. She treated me as if I were the smartest kid in her class and that I could succeed at anything. At the end of every class, she would pass around a large bag of fruit candy. I can still remember her voice, how nice her room smelled, her smile, and the taste of that candy. Most of all, I knew that she loved me. It’s the little things that make the most difference in a child’s life and learning environment.
What colleagues say about Mrs. Brandy.
“She has worked tirelessly through the pandemic. As a long-term paraeducator, she has stepped up to every task she has been assigned. She arrives every day to work with a smile on her face. Each morning, rain, shine, hot, or cold, she stands outside and welcomes students to school who arrive on the school bus. She is always so positive and upbeat.”
– Dr. Danelle Peterman, Principal of D A. Smith Middle School
“Mrs. Parr consistently demonstrates kindness to all students and staff members. Mrs. Parr is also a great example of positivity and kindness because every time I observe her in the classroom, lunchroom, or hallway she always has a smile on her face and goes the extra mile for her school and students. Mrs. Parr is a shining light at our school, and she truly elevates everyone she encounters.”
– Sam Davis, Vice-Principal of D. A. Smith Middle School
Congratulations, Brandy Parr!
“Brandy Parr is a true representative of the high-quality educators Kelly Education provides to its partner schools each day. She is dedicated to being a reliable and positive source for the students and staff she encounters. We are proud to recognize her commitment with this honor.”
– Nicola Soares, President of Kelly Education
As one of four Substitute Educator of the Year winners, Brandy Parr will receive a $5,000 bonus from Kelly Education, as well as $1,500 donated on her behalf to D.A. Smith Middle School.
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