Westside’s Welch named Nebraska Paraeducator of the Year
Westside Middle School’s Tamara Welch has been named a Nebraska Paraeducator of the Year for 2017.
Welch received notice of the honor earlier this week, along with an invitation to the 28th annual Nebraska Paraeducator Conference in Kearney where she will receive her award from Dr. Matt Blomstedt, Commissioner, Nebraska Department of Education.
“I appreciate the acknowledgment for my work,” said Welch. “For me, the reward is in the connections I have with the students who work so hard despite many challenges.”
Only four paraeducators statewide are selected for this award, a tribute to paraeducators acknowledged for their outstanding performance. Selection is based on contributions to the education of students, particularly those with disabilities, development of their skills and knowledge, and support they provide to the school and community.
“Tammy works daily with our most challenging students and consistently goes above and beyond the parameters of her job description,” said Marc Benedetto, Westside Middle School’s Coordinator for Special Services. “Tammy’s diligence and skill in doing her job is a vital cog in the success of our students. An example of her commitment was her willingness to attend and participate in track practice and meets so one our students could participate. Tammy has a desire to increase her knowledge and skill set by becoming a BCBA trained behavior technician.”
Welch is one of several respected educators who works with special needs students at Westside Community Schools. Thousands saw proof of that last Spring in a video shared across social media. In an April track meet, Westside Middle School Special Education teacher Keery Wolf ran alongside Hayden Sommer, a student with Autism. Dozens of Hayden’s fellow students and families cheered as the two finished the race, a video that reached nearly 50,000 people on Facebook alone. Welch also works directly with Hayden everyday. CLICK HERE to watch!
The Sommer family nominated Welch for an Educational Assistant award through the Westside Foundation, which she won in May of 2017. They offered the following as part of their nomination:
- ‘To truly make impactful change, you must go beyond where others simply will not. You must look past yourself and put the needs of other before yours…you must simply do the right thing. Over the past year our son Hayden has been blessed to be able to spend his school days with Tammy. She has embraced his needs, listens to him, comforts him and most of all built a trusting relationship with him. Tammy has harnessed the human elements needed to provide Hayden with the best school experience coupled with opportunities to engage with his peers. She seeks to understand Hayden, not just his words but the way he thinks and processes situations. Above all she provides a steady hand and compassion to a young person who struggles to find his place. We are grateful to have Tammy in Hayden’s and our lives, she has truly made impactful change!’
“She is so deserving of this award as she is the best paraeducator Hayden has ever had and her heart and skills are huge,” said Hayden’s mom, Heidi Sommer, upon learning of Welch’s latest honor.
“Her professionalism is above and beyond when she works with other staff members and students,” said Kim Eymann, Assistant Principal of Westside Middle School.
“My wish is that the children I work with continue to be successful, despite their challenges,” said Welch. “I truly love my job. It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”