Is A Cariola Career Right for You?
No doubt you have heard the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child.” While use of the phrase gained popularity in 1996 here in the United States, it is actually a very old African proverb. Regardless of its origin it’s a saying that is never too far away from my thoughts as I walk through the hallways of our school and visit our residences. When I think of the full range of services that Mary Cariola Children's Center offers it is clear that it does in fact take a village. Teachers, teacher’s aide’s clinicians, social workers, direct care professionals just to name a few, touch the lives of our children, youth and young adults as well as their families.
When I meet people unfamiliar with our Cariola Community they are often surprised that we employee nearly 700 people throughout the agency. In looking at just one child who lives in our residence and comes to school here, the number of people who care for and educate that individual is impressive. Just as impressive I am afraid to say is the shortage of people at many levels who educate and care for children with special needs. New York State Education Department labor statistics show that there are key shortages in many areas of special education including speech teachers, occupational therapists, nurses, special education teachers and teacher aides.
An entry level career position that I enjoy discussing especially with young students as well as those looking for a start in special needs education is that of a teacher’s aide (TA). Let me share why. Teacher’s aides in the special education world are vital to the success of the classroom teacher and therefore meeting the goals for each student. Working as a TA provides a firsthand look into the window of special education as well as the teaching profession. Beginning a career (hopefully a Cariola Career!) as a TA gives individuals important experience in the classroom. It’s experience that can be used in the future and be the springboard to a rewarding work experience. So just what does a Teacher’s Aide do?
A TA has a multitude of tasks that include but are not limited to; reinforce lessons presented by teachers by reviewing material with students one-on-one or in small group, help teachers with recordkeeping, such as track attendance, set-up equipment or organize material to help teachers prepare for lessons, oversee students in class, transport to and from therapy, oversee classroom routines and much more. Some TA’s may be assigned to one or two students who have more severe disabilities and assist them in their daily routine such as basic needs, eating or personal hygiene.
I have long believed that a strong organization is one that not only brings out the potential in those who are served, but also those who serve. While it’s important to always bring new people on board, it is also a priority to provide on-going programs for those who already work here. Affording staff the opportunity to better themselves and their careers is a major element that defines who we are as an agency.
The Board of Directors, leadership team, donors and those who have come before us have placed a major emphasis on developing the individual, and to that means Mary Cariola Children's Center has in place wonderful opportunities for our staff. Professional development is available to our school, residential and administrative staffs allowing for continued education and various certification possibilities. We’re fortunate to have partnership agreements with local colleges, including Roberts Wesleyan and Nazareth who both offer significant tuition assistance/discount programs. These partnerships in some cases are for our staff and in others for staff and their dependents and offer the opportunity to potentially earn a Bachelor’s Degree and even Masters and Teacher Certification. Lastly, there are scholarships available for those who want to further their learning and therefore their careers. Staff may apply for the scholarships and provide criteria for continuing their education while still working. Each of these opportunities benefits both the agency and the individual but the greatest benefit is to the children, youth and young adults we serve every day.
Staffers who may be interested in these programs are encouraged to talk with their supervisors, find out more and determine their level of interest. Additionally, very soon all the appropriate information and forms will be available on our intranet for staff to view.
The Mary Cariola Children's Center website at MaryCariola.org has a full listing of the jobs that are available and instructions on how to apply. I encourage you, your relatives and friends to take a look and see if just maybe a Cariola Career is right for you or someone you know. We really do set the standard for unlocking lifelong potential—for our children and our staff. Joining the Cariola Community could be the start of something big.