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Full-Time Assistants Sought

Martha Lidman (seated) and her assistant teacher listen as their students sing a new song they learned in music class at Iron Station Elementary. Lidman has spoken to the Board of Education about the need for full time teacher assistants in second grade.
The Board of Education has begun to consider next year’s budget, and some employees have started to push for hiring full-time second grade assistants.
Due to state budget cuts, second grade assistants have only worked part-time this school year.
“If you don’t have that extra person in here, it’s really hard to get anything accomplished,” said Martha Lidman, a kindergarten teacher at Iron Station Elementary.
Lidman spoke on behalf of second grade teachers at the Board of Education February meeting.
. “I feel like I’m pretty much speaking for everybody,” she said.
Hiring full-time second grade teacher assistants would cost the school system $462,000. Joan Avery, a board member, believes the money would be well spent.
“This is one of my top priorities,” Avery said. “We want teacher assistants back in full time, every day.”
Avery, a former third grade teacher, believes that employing the assistants would improve students reading ability.
“Reading is a bridge to education in every field, every curriculum,” Avery said.
Teacher assistants often spend time working one-on- one with students who are struggling with reading.
They also free up teachers’ time by helping with stacks of paper work and taking care of children with special needs.
Lidman had noticed that second grade teachers have struggled this year.
“They only have their assistants part time,” said Lidman. “That’s why they’re carrying everything home at night.”
Lidman showed board members the box of paperwork she has had to complete. Avery also provide examples.
Hiring full-time second grade assistants is just one of many items being considered for next year’s budget.
Budget and Finance committee members also heard about the needs for an additional JROTC program, safety officer, technology technician and two middle school career and technical education teachers.
“I imagine more discussion will come,” said Avery.
In the meantime, several teachers have written board members about the need for assistants, and Lidman has encouraged board members to observe kindergarten through second grade classes.
“I think they know that it’s a hard job, but I don’t think they really understand all the non-administrative duties,” said Lidman.
“It’s a very stressful job, but when you see a kid learning, it’s the most wonderful thing.”
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Staff Writer Sarah Grano can be reached at 704-735-3031 or sgrano@ltnews.com
by Sarah Grano

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