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Walter Bickett Education Center teacher assistant wins top title

Barbara Shinault, a four-year veteran teacher assistant at Walter Bickett Education Center, is all smiles after she is named the 2012 Teacher Assistant of the Year. (Below) The UCNCATA awarded three $1,000 scholarships to UCPS students. Pictured are, from left, Amanda Slavo from Cuthbertson High School; Ryan Murdock a Weddington High School graduate; and Alyssa McCourt from Union County Early College.

Barbara Shinault, a four-year veteran teacher assistant at Walter Bickett Education Center, was named the 2012 Teacher Assistant of the Year during the 20th Annual Spring Banquet held Thursday (May 24, 2012) at South Piedmont Community College.

Shinault was chosen by the Union County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Teacher Assistants (UCNCATA). Described as a problem solver with overwhelming dedication to her students, Shinault thanked her husband, Curtis, for his support and the staff at her school. “We’re very close and it shows,” she said. “Everyone came from my school tonight to show support.”

Walter Bickett Education Center director Fo Roldan said he wasn’t surprised that his teacher assistant had won. “Ms. Shinault is a very driven person,” he said. “She likes perfection, loves the children and wants all her peers to be successful. She’s just that type of person. She’s wonderful with the children. She loves the kids. I’m proud of her and proud for the school.”

The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. Jay Jones, principal at Marvin Elementary School. “We leave behind a bit of ourselves wherever we’ve been,” he said. “Reflect on the impact you’ve had on the students, the teachers you’ve supported and the principals to whom you’ve been dedicated and loyal. A big part of you, a piece of each and every one of you, has been woven into the fabric of your school community. You’ve left your mark by supporting your teachers and that struggling reader. You’ve planted seeds in the hearts and minds of the young people through your work with and for them.”

Just prior to this year's UCPS top teacher assistant being named, last year's winner, April Phillips, a TA at Hemby Bridge Elementary, spoke of her year. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet other teacher assistants and hear about the work that they provide for the students. The UCNCATA meetings are a wonderful way to communicate with other teacher assistants and support our fellow colleagues.”

She said one of the most memorable parts of her year has been her experiences with Sally Norris, the UCNCATA president.

“She’s very strong and knows what she wants,” Phillips said. “She’s very passionate about her work. She’s also supportive, kind hearted and would do anything in the world for you. She’s put me through the wringer the past year, but I’ve had nothing but support from her, the UCNCATA board and my colleagues at Hemby Bridge.”

During the evening, UCPS Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis was honored with a plaque and a standing ovation for his support of teacher assistants and the Union County chapter of NCATA over the years. After being recognized, Davis told the crowd that the battle to keep teacher assistants, in light of state budget cuts, isn’t over.

“I went to the General Assembly yesterday (May 23, 2012),” Davis said. “I was one of 14 superintendents called to meet before the Speaker of the House. We had some very good conversations. The House budget is recommending a reduction in the discretionary cut, which would mean about $2 million for Union County Public Schools. That money would be poured back into teacher assistants. I’m hoping we’ll be in a much better situation than we are at the present time.”

Davis told the teacher assistants to never doubt how much they are appreciated and valued. “If you weren’t valued so much, this whole issue (of teacher assistant budget cuts) wouldn’t be in the news media just about every day, and it wouldn’t be discussed just about every day. People recognize what you do for our children. I just want you to know I’m going to keep fighting for you right up until June 30, my last day."

The UCNCATA also awarded three $1,000 scholarships to UCPS students Amanda Slavo from Cuthbertson High School, Ryan Murdock a Weddington High School graduate and Alyssa McCourt from Union County Early College.

Shinault will now go on to compete for the District Six teacher of the year title.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Video by: Don Mace, UCPS Web Communications Coordinator
Posted: May 25, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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