After spending more than two decades as a paraprofessional educator for the Special Education Department of the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), Bridget Alstrum was looking for a new challenge. She already had an established career helping teachers support students with moderate to severe disabilities, but realized one day that she wanted to build on that professional foundation. She decided to return to school and become a special education teacher.
Paraprofessional educators perform a wide range of tasks as they help teachers support special education students. Some of these duties include individual/small group instructional support, implementation of behavior management plans, collection of student data, personal care for students, and many others.
“I took a further look inside the classrooms I was working in, and I liked what I saw. So, that’s when I made a decision to become a teacher.” Alstrum is now a teacher intern for SCOE’s program serving students with mild to moderate disabilities at Jesse Baker School in Elk Grove.
The new teacher credits several other SCOE special education instructors with inspiring her. “Special education has so many aspects of genuine care and empathy, learning and growing. And I just love the kids. I think that’s all it takes. I love the kids,” she said.
The satisfaction comes when she sees that her students and their families are happy and smiling when it’s time to go home. That’s when she knows she’s done her best to support her students and families.
“At the end of the day, I go home, and I go ‘Yeah! I did that!’ I’m pretty proud of myself.”