Opinion: Paraprofessionals deserve a raise

Jan 23, 2023

Jan. 23, 2023

To the Editor:

I have been employed with the Wareham Public Schools since 2007. I began my journey volunteering in my sons' classroom. I stayed to help not only his teacher, but any teacher in any way that I could. Lots of times, it was dismissal time and I was still there. 
To this day, teachers that my son had are my very dear friends. We have a respect for one another. We support each other, communicate with each other and discuss what needs to be done in unity for the greatness of our children. 
I've had many roles in multiple schools over the years.  I've worked to my fullest ability in all positions that were assigned to me, including kindergarten, one on one in first, second, third and fourth grades, the Learning Center, the ASD room, ISS. Currently, I work half days with preschoolers and support second, third and fourth grades, hosting groups for Dictation, Phonics, Chipper Chat, Guided Readings, Timed Readings and Writing. 
As you can see, paraprofessionals are needed in every grade. In my opinion, they should be in every single classroom to assist children and teachers. We are an extra set of eyes to watch the children, an extra set of hands, an extra set of ears to listen, a hand to hold, open arms to give a hug, a face that the children look for to make their day complete. 
We are the paraprofessionals of the Wareham Public Schools. We are here with hope that the School Committee takes us seriously.  Being part of the Negotiations team for over a year, it has been a disgrace to see that we are not valued. We are not appreciated. 
With all due respect, we are worth more!  We are just as valuable as the teachers! We are here to let you know that we are not ready to settle. We will continue to fight for what we believe in. We deserve to get a raise that represents all that we do each and every day. Once again, I hear that Golden Rule: Treat others the way that you want to be treated. 
In closing, on behalf of my paraprofessional family, we invite the School Committee to shadow us. We would like you to experience firsthand all that we do throughout the day. As the saying goes, "you don't know what it is like until you walk in our shoes".
We ask that you select a day and time and spend the entire day in the school of your choice.  Upon completion of this task, I pray that your eyes, hearts and wallets open. 
Lisa Ferro