2020 SEPAC AWARDS
Kerri DeSimone is a preschool teaching assistant, supporting students in both the Early Learning Center (ELC) classroom and the integrated classrooms. One colleague says, “Kerri has a level of compassion and intuition for her students that comes straight from the heart.” Kerri is known as kind and caring, fun and loving, creative and playful, confident and calm, and patient and positive. Colleagues and parents both remark how she really knows and understands the kids she is supporting so well, and because of this she is able to get the most out of them.
Kerri is recognized for encouraging independence in her students. A teacher notes that one of her greatest strengths is “…her awareness of when to give kids the opportunity for independence.” This teacher notes that it can be hard to “have the confidence to back away from a child when your role is to support them… Kerri seamlessly transitions from backing away, and stepping back in when appropriate.”
In and out of the classroom, Kerri uses each moment as a teaching and learning opportunity, facilitating social and play skills wherever possible. A parent shares that at the beginning of the year, Kerri worked hard with her child on pretend play, as he did not have that skill when the year started. She says, “It was music to my ears to hear my son at home and on his own say he wanted to play ‘traffic jam’ — and then set up and vocalize the pretend game of zooming cars and trains around and making pretend bridges, etc.” This parent also describes the ways that Kerri went above and beyond to support this student. She says, “My son also has a big speech delay — Kerri worked so hard to support him and find every opportunity possible for language. She even learned and worked with him on his Alternative Augmentative Communication device, which is just one more added task that she took in stride.”
Kerri is a wonderful example of how a teaching assistant can be vital to a student’s growth and progress during the year. A grateful parent says, “Kerri has been so integral in my child’s success this year, especially in the inclusion class… On his own he would not be able to get this experience, but with Kerri smoothly and subtly guiding him when needed and stepping back when she sees his independence shining through — he is able to have a great experience.”
Kerri’s colleagues recognize her as a leader in the classroom. She is often tasked with assisting in the training of new teaching assistants due to her depth of knowledge and the enthusiasm that she has for her work.” As one colleague says, “Kerri is a natural teacher; it is what she was born to do, and we are just fortunate that she is doing it with us.”
Kerri, we join with your colleagues and the parents of your students to say thank you for all you do!