Paraprofessional spends 3 decades making an impact
MONTGOMERY – As the new school year begins at Montgomery Elementary School this week, paraprofessional Debbie Salvatori will walk through the doors to begin her thirty-third year with the district. Over the years she has earned a reputation for being a caring member of the elementary staff. Salvatori’s bright smile and kind words have encouraged many children throughout the years. Some of her former students now have children attending the school.
She began working at the school in the fall of 1985 as a kindergarten aide in Barbara Flock’s class. The idea of working with children appealed to her because in addition to being a mother, she had always helped with Sunday School and vacation Bible school. Salvatori said that she always seemed to be able to connect with children. “Working with kids is an occupation that keeps you young. You’ve got to have energy and stamina to keep up with kids,” Salvatori said.
She worked with Flock for 17 years before her position as an aide was transitioned to a paraprofessional. She now works with children in different classrooms throughout the day, spending time with children in various grades. She enjoys working with children at all age levels, does lunch duty and gets involved with the elementary school programs.
The world has changed a lot since she began in 1985, but one thing Salvatori said has stayed the same is that most children genuinely enjoy the school experience. “I truly think for the most part that kids really want to be there and really want to learn. Some kids will complain a little bit, but most of them want to be there. They like to learn and they like the social experience.” She further commented that children enjoy a variety of clubs and activities, such as band, chorus, after school groups, book fairs, and field days.
In addition to her role as a paraprofessional, she is heavily involved in the Raider Pride League as a core team member. This school-wide program for elementary students has four key values: Be respectful, be responsible, be safe, be kind and be caring. When an adult witnesses a student doing something good, the student gets recognized by having their name put on a bulletin board. They also receive points and a ticket towards a drawing. Teachers track the students’ points and as their numbers increase they can receive certificates, medals, and sometimes parties. Also there are three assemblies per year as part of the Raider Pride League.
Salvatori spends extra time at the school on Wednesdays to help with Accelerated Reader, a reading incentive program which began in 2001. Children can accumulate points and prizes for reading books.
One of her favorite activities of the year is the elementary school’s Veterans Day program. “The kids love vets,” she said. The students make patriotic posters that say “Thank you, Vets” and host an appreciation program that is followed by a reception for the veterans. Salvatori said it’s a tradition for the students to sing “I’m Proud to Be an American,” and the children really get into it by enthusiastically waving their flags and practically shouting the lyrics. She said it leaves her teary-eyed.
For Salvatori, the most rewarding part of her job is watching the children succeed. When a child’s face lights up because they’ve earned a good grade or printed a letter correctly after some struggle, she knows she’s made an impact. She said that’s the true reward for her job.
When she’s not working, Salvatori’s favorite hobbies include trips to the beach, camping, scrapbooking, and making handmade greeting cards.