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Why paraprofessionals are unsung heroes of education | Teachers' Lounge Podcast

Dana Gilbreath
Dana Gilbreath
Dana Gilbreath

On a brand-new episode of Teachers’ Lounge, we’re showcasing our first paraprofessional on the program – Dana Gilbreath!

If you don’t work in education or it’s been a while since you’ve been in school, you might be thinking: what is a paraprofessional? Well, you might know them as a teacher’s aid or assistant.

They are educators, they are support staff who work with students in general education classrooms, special education, everywhere in schools.

Dana is a paraprofessional at the Valley View Communiy School District in Romeoville, Illinois. She’s been a paraprofessional for decades, and she’s recently started a journey to become a classroom teacher.

One of the reasons is that Dana is African-American and she’s started to realize that her students were getting more and more diverse, but the teaching staff was not.

“So, I thought it was time for me to step up and play a bigger part in the change for our students,” she said.

We talk with Dana about why she loves to be a paraprofessional and why she’s decided to make this shift, 30+ years into her education career.

If you’ve never listened to Teachers’ Lounge before, our show is based on an idea -- we’ve all had teachers in our lives who shaped who we are. And we want to hear about the teachers who inspired you or deserve a spotlight in your community. Every educator we have on this podcast, whether teacher, coach, counselor or professor, is nominated by our listeners.

So, tell us about the person who comes to your mind. Shoot us an email and nominate an educator at teacherslounge@niu.edu and they could be on the podcast! And please subscribe to our Teachers' Lounge newsletter right here where you can stay up to speed on the show and share stories you think we should cover!

Also, Teachers’ Lounge is on the radio! Catch the show as an hour-long radio program, every month LIVE on 89-5 FM and streaming at WNIJ.org. We have multiple guests, stories, and exclusive segments. Tune in on the last Friday of the month at noon for future episodes. Our next episode airs on Friday, January 26th at noon and the next day, January 27th at 6 a.m.

Teachers' Lounge Podcast
Peter Medlin
Teachers' Lounge Podcast


Educator in this episode:

Dana Gilbreath

Stories in this episode:

Children need mental health support more than ever. But services in northern Illinois can be hard to find

Music: Our show's theme music is from the northern Illinois-based band "Kindoves" and their songs "Popn," "Origins" and "Quiche." You can find more of their music on their Soundcloud page. You can also listen to the episode of WNIJ's Sessions from Studio A where they were featured.

Teachers! People who know teachers! People with stories about teachers! Send us an email and be part of the show! Also, send us your topic recommendations: teacherslounge@niu.edu

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.