Paraeducator Teresa Johnson
Paraeducator Teresa Johnson is there for the students
Posted on 03/12/2018
Paraeducator Teresa Johnson is there for the students

Everyone at Firgrove Elementary knows Teresa Johnson. They know her smile, positive attitude, and her ability to get the job done.

Mostly, they know how much she cares about students.

Teresa JohnsonFor Johnson it all comes down to serving students — and it goes beyond the academics. She is one of nearly 400 paraeducators in the district who provide essential support to students and staff by working directly with students in the classroom, providing a safe environment inside and outside of the building, preparing classroom materials, and much more.

As the Firgrove Elementary School Support Paraeducator, Johnson’s day begins by supervising students as they arrive on the bus. She directs them to the building, interacts with bus drivers, and all the while is watchful of safety and security around the school.

“Ms. Johnson is our utility player. Her experience and resourcefulness is at the cornerstone of our operations.” Firgrove Principal Richard Lasso

The building paraeducator is responsible for many things. Throughout the day Johnson supports teachers and staff with a variety of tasks including laminating, copying, or escorting a sick child to the office. Then it’s out to recess where she supervises more than 725 students throughout the day. At the end of the school day it’s back to the buses to make sure students are safely on their way.

 “I’m pretty happy with my routine. The challenge can be physically getting where you need to be with so many different roles. I think transition time is probably huge with all paraeducators,” says Johnson.  She noted that scheduling can change from year to year for paraeducators depending on student and staffing needs.

Instruction and teaching students takes place both inside and out of the classroom says Johnson. “All the little problems kids have are huge to them. It’s kind of like being a counselor. I think that’s why recess is as important as academics. It provides an opportunity to learn the rules and how to get along,” she says. There are times when students talk to her and she helps them by speaking to the counselor or teacher on their behalf.

When it comes to training Johnson is proactive. She seeks additional training even if it is not required for her current role as a paraeducator. “Whenever training comes along I just do it. It is nice to have it in case you ever need to step into another paraeducator position,” says Johnson.

Opportunities for staff community service are important to Johnson and one of the many reasons she enjoys working at Firgrove. For the last 10 years the paraeducators have hosted a community outreach for the Hidden Glen community where they prepare a meal, give a book to the children, and do a project. They read the book aloud in English and Spanish. “A lot of our teachers come out, and it’s really fun,” says Johnson.

As a paraeducator at Firgrove Elementary for the past 20 years, Johnson has held many positions helping students be successful. She began her career with the Renton School District before coming to Puyallup.


Nancy French
frenchnl@puyallup.k12.wa.us