This entry was written by Katie Torrance, a paraprofessional at Chaddock School. She loves children and has worked with kids since she was 24. In her free time, she enjoys being with her family and really love movies.

The moment I walked through Chaddock’s doors I realized I was walking into an environment full of the most precious individuals, staff included. Our students, and really all of us, have an endless labyrinth of needs.

Sometimes you lose your breath from all of the personal energy and feelings you give away. Other times, you are home on a Saturday, enjoying the silence and find yourself surprised by the feeling of loneliness that occurs without the common commotion from work. The kids become a part of you. What I didn’t realize was that we actually become a part of them as well.

Think of that one student who jumps with pure joy and gives you the most suffocating tight hug when they see you each day. Ponder, the student who always happens to stumble upon you every time they feel pain. That’s right, it’s the one student who gets relief from that pain by something as small as you scratching them gently on the back. Sometimes it’s hard to realize all the “roles” we play in our children’s lives here at Chaddock. On Monday you’re playing the “Mentor” or “Parent” role, by Friday you’ll catch yourself getting a tablet thrown at you because that same kiddo is falling apart emotionally. I call this the “target” role. There isn’t a single adult at Chaddock who hasn’t played this role so that our children can express their frustrations and find some relief.

Your role may change but the fact remains the same, we are a part of our children and what we do matters.

However, working at Chaddock, I have come across two roles that stick out the most to me; the “Solver” and the “Listener” role. Our kids are known to have an earthquake of big emotions. When those emotions lead them to us, often our children are desperate to find relief from something paining them. This is where you choose to be the “Solver” or the “Listener”. I have found that more often than not, my students want me to be the “Listener” but I crashed and burned trying to be the “Solver”. Sometimes our students just want to air things out; to share their grief and pain and unload their burden. Other times they just want you to acknowledge they are hurt and reassure them that it’s okay to feel that way. Maybe they just need you to sit with them and live in THEIR moment, not yours. It’s not that our children don’t need help solving problems at times or that they don’t need to learn problem solving skills, they do. However, I have learned that sometimes you walk in as the problem solver when you really just needed to be the listener.

Whatever choice you make, remember that you play a huge “Role” in our students lives and I’m beyond blessed to have this opportunity. I want my kids to know that Ms. Katie will always “Listen”.