A Challis Primary School employee has been recognised as the top education assistant in Western Australia.
On November 24 Karen Warren was recognised for her work devising the school’s Structured Teaching Reinforced in a Visual Environment program, which targets its special needs students who require extra support.
Ms Warren said she was shocked to have received the award.
“It’s very surreal, I still don’t think it’s sunk in,” she said.
“I was very honoured to even be nominated, let alone make the final.”
Ms Warren’s brainchild the STRIVE program removes special needs students from kindergarten to year one from their mainstream classes for three hours a day to teach vital life skills including communication, how to cross roads, make food and how to act in emergencies.
Through STRIVE students are placed into a small group and receive focused teaching which has been tailored to their individual learning needs.
While focusing specifically on improving maths and English skills STRIVE also supports social and emotional development.
The program was devised earlier this year when Challis Primary principal Lee Musumeci encouraged her to take a different approach to teaching special needs students.
At the end of its first year in operation it supports 12 children per day.
Ms Warren said even though the school did not have the luxury of a large budget to dip in to for extra support the results had been remarkable.
“The group of kids have formed an amazing bond,” she said.
“These are kids who generally don’t have a lot of friends to play with yet now they’re looking out for each other in the playground.
“We have kids who at the beginning of the year wouldn’t join in with singing and dancing, now they’re getting involved.
“We have a boy who at the start of the year wouldn’t say anything, now he’s one of the loudest in the class.”
Ms Warren said the program would continue to be worked on and in 2018 would support children from pre-primary to year four.