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I am an Educational Assistant!

I have been an educational assistant for the past 20 years. Since it has been my dream job since I was in high school. As a student with a learning disability and ADHD, I wanted to work with youth. It was my goal to be the person in students' lives who would find them hiding in the cracks that I lived in and pick them up. To be able to provide youth with a welcoming and supportive environment where they can grow and achieve their full potential.

When I was hired no one told me that I would have to wear kevlar sleeves to help protect me when I was bitten on a daily basis. They forgot to tell me that I would be spit at and that desks, chairs and computers would be thrown at me. Nowhere in the interview did they ask me how I would handle working with a student one day and having to accept that they died the next day. There was never training on what to do when feces was going to be thrown at me.

No matter what the bad days bring nothing can explain the feeling you get when your students achieve what you have both been working so hard to achieve. To see the pure joy and pride on their face when they achieve something.

Over my 20 years, I have won both city and provincial awards for my work as an Educational Assistant. Some of my proudest accomplishments is knowing that I have supported 8 students when they wanted to end their lives. I provided a co-curricular program that was fully inclusive and has provided many students with an opportunity to belong, push themselves and become champions. And the incredible feeling when students who have not seen or heard from you for years contact you or runs into you and they tell you about how much you meant to them.

The part that breaks my heart is that the job of an Educational Assistant is no longer what it used to be. Being short-staffed is almost a daily challenge. Some days feel more like firefighters running from student to student just putting out fires, or being tasked with so many students that you don’t even know what to do. I know with all my heart that the original job I was hired for was what I was made to do. I loved it. I knew I would never be rich as an Educational Assistant, but it use to bring me great personal satisfaction.

It is now harder for me to be able to afford to live. I have had to make decisions in my life currently like having to sell my car because I can not afford to drive it anymore. I have never wanted to be rich, but I did want to be able to afford to live in the city I love to do the job I was meant to do. Sadly that may no longer be able to achieve that goal.


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