Two school employees honored as paraeducators of the year - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Two eastern Iowa school employees honored as paraeducators of the year

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) - Jill Johnson with Lincoln Elementary in Cedar Falls was surprised to learn she's one of two paraeducators of the year.

"I was shocked. Everybody here at Lincoln works so hard, and I don't feel I do anything more than anyone else," said Jill Johnson.

Johnson received her award from Dr. Roark Horn with AEA 267. Nominations for the award are submitted from 56 public school districts served by the agency.

"It's quite a pool to pull from, so when we pick two winners we're talking about the best of the very best," said Dr. Horn.

Jill Johnson's three sons went to Lincoln Elementary, and she has her degree in elementary education. She mostly works with third and fourth graders.

"I love working as a paraeducator because I get to work with students individually and get to know them really well and help them be successful in the classroom," said Johnson.

Johnson said all the teachers and paraeducators at Lincoln go above and beyond. That's also what this year's second paraeducator of the year, Heidi Rohlfsen, said about North Tama Elementary in Traer.

"The students and everybody I work with make it very easy to come here everyday to do what I do. North Tama goes above and beyond for the students and their employees," said Heidi Rohlfsen.

Rohlfsen has a degree in social work and started as a paraeducator six years ago after staying home with her children. Rohlfsen and Johnson said the role of a paraeducator is to help students succeed.

"Keeping students on task. The ones that don't understand it. That's where we come in and give a little one-on-one," said Rohlfsen.

Rohlfsen mainly worked with sixth graders this year. She said having a paraeducator in the classroom means more individualized education for students.

Heidi Rohlfsen and Jill Johnson said the relationships they build with the students is why they come back to school each year.

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