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Jenks Public Schools in need of paraprofessionals

Posted at 7:01 AM, Sep 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-21 18:37:43-04

JENKS, Okla. — At the beginning of the school year many Green Country districts were still trying to fill support staff positions.

Jenks, for example, started classes with 100 job openings still. Nearly half of those openings are for paraprofessionals. Now a month later the district hired nine paraprofessionals, but what exactly does a paraprofessional do?

Paraprofessionals work specifically in the special education department in many different capacities depending on the student's needs — from physical needs, help in the classroom, even social or any combination of those.

2 News Oklahoma shadowed Emily Jonagan, a paraprofessional at Jenks High School.

She explains there are three different levels of paraprofessional:

  • lab - have 2-3 three students they monitor periodically making sure the students are getting to class on time, doing their assignments and helping with any classes the students are struggling with
  • concepts - when a group of paraprofessionals work underneath a teacher in a full classroom of special needs kids
  • essentials - go from class to class with their students all day assisting where it's needed.

Jonagan is an essential paraprofessional working with her student, Mercy. Mercy is nonverbal and has some physical disabilities.

“With her it's mainly physical assistance because she does a lot of her work on her device," Jonagan said. "Anytime she has a worksheet or something that she is unable to do the writing, she will type up the answer on her talking device and I will write the answers for her.”

Jonagan says the main goal in her job is to help students achieve their goals and succeed in school.

She says she loves her job and encourages anyone with love and patience to apply for what she says is a rewarding job. A paraprofessional can have anywhere between one to three students assigned to them. The district hopes to keep that number lower by hiring more staff.

Brooke Martin, the special education coordinator for Jenks High School, says paraprofessionals are important and she feels the school wouldn’t survive without them.

“I’ve heard from across the state that they are the number one service requested for students that are in special education so I hear from teachers all the time that they would love to have that support in their class,” Martin said.

Just like Jonagan, Martin says being a paraprofessional is a rewarding job.

She says a full paraprofessional staff at Jenks High School consists of 19 and right now they only have 14 which means they are looking to hire 5 more.

To be qualified for this position, you need a high school diploma or GED, obtain a CPR and first aid certification, and last you will need either a 455 score on a paraprofessional exam, have an associate's or higher degree, or two years of study at an institution of high education.

You can apply to be a paraprofessionalhere.

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