2020 SEPAC AWARDS
Mitchell Elementary School
What makes Jen Hansford remarkable is her ability to connect with students of all profiles, find what motivates them, and build this into their day.
In her role as Teaching Assistant, Jen is extremely diligent in implementing all aspects of an IEP. But she goes beyond that. She gets to know her students so well that she will often anticipate triggers and take steps to prevent “unexpected” behaviors, creating a place where the child can feel and be successful. That being said, Jen is also very good at giving her students an opportunity to deal with and fix problems themselves. She makes knowing when to step forward and when to step back look so easy, when in reality it is not.
There are many stories to support Jen’s exceptional work. She is described as flexible and understanding, staying at school longer if this ensures a child gets to preview materials or completes an assignment on time. One family notes how she allows their student to contact them if they are having a particularly bad day, how she made a pillow the student needed to stay calm during story time, and how she thinks of them wherever she finds out about an after-school activity that their child could enjoy and benefit from.
A parent shared with us, “My son loves working with Mrs. Hansford — he feels very comfortable with her and she brings out the best in him. He says she is his favorite teacher. I think Mrs. Hansford is highly appreciated by many, not just our family.”
Taking care of a special needs child all day long is hard work, especially while also helping all the other kids in the classroom. Jen is recognized for her incredible work and positive attitude. In the words of another parent, “Mrs. Hansford knows how much my son strives to be praised and how some parts of his day can be difficult, and she always helps him deal with them. Thanks to Mrs. Hansford, my son loves going to school.”