coop spotlight april 2024

April 2024

Sasha Roble- Cooperative Education Coordinator

We often talk about the importance of early childhood education (ECE) and the crucial role it plays in shaping the future of our society. At CPACTC, one student stands out as a testament to the dedication and passion driving the next generation of educators. Meet Christina Duffey (Red Land), a co-op capstone student whose journey through ECE and paraprofessional work at CCRES with West Shore School District exemplifies the power of exploration and commitment to personal growth.

When asked about her journey, Christina reflects on her initial motivations for attending CPACTC. "I attended CPACTC because I wanted to have various work and college opportunities while still being in high school," she shares. Her decision to pursue ECE stemmed from a desire to explore teaching as a potential career path and to understand her own strengths and inclinations. "I wanted to figure out if I would have the personality and patience to work with students," she adds.

Choosing to participate in co-op was a pivotal decision for Christina. While she enjoyed working with preschoolers, she sought to broaden her horizons and explore different age groups to identify her true calling. This led her to CCRES, where she found a challenging yet rewarding environment as a paraprofessional working in a middle school. "I enjoy interesting challenges, and working as a paraprofessional allows me to work with all different types of students and situations," she explains.

At CCRES, Christina faces challenges head-on, particularly in learning to support older students with advanced learning needs. However, she emphasizes the rewarding nature of overcoming these obstacles and the supportive environment fostered by CCRES management. "Learning how to help older students who have more advanced learning support needs was difficult at first, but is very rewarding now that I am improving on the skill," she reflects.

In her role as a paraprofessional, Christina plays a vital role in providing emotional and learning support to students. From facilitating small group activities to offering accommodations tailored to individual needs, she creates a nurturing environment where students can thrive. "This environment allows my students to feel comfortable and confident enough to learn," she shares.

As Christina continues her journey, she offers valuable advice to Level 2 students considering co-op opportunities. "Remember to keep an open mind and to be responsive to feedback given by your experienced coworkers," she advises. "It is ok to make a mistake while you’re learning, but it isn’t ok to stay wrong."

Christina’s story underscores the significance of hands-on experiences in shaping career pathways and personal growth. As the demand for paraprofessionals in education continues to rise, her journey serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring educators and professionals dedicated to supporting children's growth and development.

In an era where the need for qualified educators and support staff is more pressing than ever, Christina's dedication to her craft shines brightly. Through her commitment to learning, adapting, and empowering students, she exemplifies the transformative impact of education and the unwavering dedication of those who shape young minds.

Note: According to recent data, the demand for paraprofessionals in education is projected to grow by 8% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).