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The Big Three at Rolling Meadows Elementary

They’re called The Big Three - a name derived from the nickname given to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs.

These Big Three at Rolling Meadows Elementary are Mr. Sergio Parra, Ms. Bertha Castillo, and Ms. Jasmine Sanchez, instructional aids who are a pillar of the campus, go-to aides who do everything and anything that is needed to ensure teachers can teach and the campus runs smoothly.

“Sometimes, paras are not always recognized as much as others on campus but our instructional paras are key contributors to our campus culture,” Ms. Christina Mendez, library media specialist, said. “Whether they're creating bulletin boards, dressing up as Pokemon, assisting in classrooms, or coming up with ideas to help bring our campus together, we definitely could not accomplish some of the things we do around here without their help.”

Sanchez is the newest of the three, on her fourth month at Rolling Meadows after making a career pivot from banking.

“Never in a million years did I think that I was going to love what I did,” Sanchez said. “I think it's a beautiful thing and it's very rewarding because a lot of people say ‘I would never do that.’ Because I was one of those people. I didn’t think I had the patience to do it, but it's very different when you work one-on-one with these children. It's very different when you're helping these teachers and seeing everything that they have to go through.”

There’s something different about education, in comparison to other industries. You have to love it. Sanchez learned that quickly - she fell in love with making a difference.

“You have to have the heart. And it's such a beautiful thing to do - being able to be that support for these kids,” Sanchez said.

Parra also made a career pivot from law enforcement to education and says it was one of the best decisions he’s made in his life.

“I knew I wanted to impact people's lives, particularly more children,” Parra said. “I’ve come from a long line of teachers in my family, and I thought being a para would be a good way to try it out and see if I like it. It's been the best job ever since.”

When deciding to enter education, he was reminded of that one teacher that encouraged him. So, he wanted to encourage others.

“The one thing that I always remember was my teachers being there for me, helping me get through tough times, helping me graduate because I was always having a hard time,” Parra said. “I always remembered certain phrases that stuck to me that they told me - like my astronomy teacher always said, ‘look at the stars.’ They were core memories. I would love to be that kind of person, to make that impact and difference.”

Castillo is the veteran of the Big Three, celebrating her 17th year in education this year. Her roots in the Judson ISD Family run deep - all her children (minus one) have graduated from Judson ISD schools.

“I love working with children. That's why I've been here for so long. I know what expectations are and it just flows,” Castillo said. “My sisters would ask me, ‘can you do that all day long? Like, stay with children?’ It's just that it's got to be in you - I don't see myself doing anything else."

Paraprofessionals support the classroom teacher at a moments notice, in multiple classrooms, at any given point of the day. If a classroom teacher needs a bathroom break, the paraprofessional is called. If a teacher is dealing with a behavioral issue for one student, a paraprofessional is called to take over the lesson for the rest of the class. If a classroom teacher has an emergency, a paraprofessional could be called in to take over the class for the entire day.

They are chameleons, having to transform themselves on any given day, any time of the day, even multiple times a day, to whatever the campus needs. They are critical to the function of a campus.

Even at awards ceremonies, when a parent can’t be there, enter the paraprofessional.

“This morning, we had awards. Some of the kids are on the stage looking for their parents. It’s so sad to me when parents can’t be there. But I make sure they know I’m there, cheering them on, and we are proud of them too,” Sanchez said. “That’s positive reinforcement that helps boost up their confidence.”

It’s about showing up.

And in order for a school to properly function, multiple people from multiple specialties need to show up, be effective and efficient, and focus on educating children. The Big Three show up, effortlessly working together, meshing in a way that works specifically for them and Rolling Meadows.

“They are there wherever we need them, no questions asked,” Mendez said.

How?

“It's just a teamwork thing,” Castillo said. “We communicate. That's how we make it work.”


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