Shields Elementary School paraeducator Chantal Smith was named Cape district’s 2020-21 Educational Support Professional of the Year at the Sept. 24 school board meeting.
Smith has been a Shields paraeducator for nine years, seven of them in kindergarten, responsible for different duties throughout the day, including bus duty and student pickup/drop-off.
“Here, I get the chance to start the students’ morning off in a positive way and change any unsettled emotions that they might be feeling,” Smith said. “Maybe they forgot their lunchbox or did not get the chance to have breakfast. I can change their outlook before their school day has even started. I also get to say goodbye to them when they leave and wave to their parents too!”
Smith said a lot of relationships are built between Shields and the community.
“I am so fortunate to live and work in the same town where bonds are formed between families and educators, and you get the chance to watch the children grow from kindergarten and see them thrive throughout the years,” she said. “I am very fortunate to be a Cape Henlopen School District employee. They value us as educators and we have the utmost respect from them. I am proud and honored to come to work every day and work with such an amazing team who always supports each other.”
Shields Elementary Principal Kimberly Corbidge said Smith is a natural when interacting with students.
“Chantal is a leader who naturally pulls people together, delegates responsibilities and gets the job done,” Corbidge said. “She is able to see the big picture and help with school-wide solutions. You can always depend on Chantal's positive outlook and huge smile; it brightens every room she walks into.”
Support professionals are the unsung heroes of the school, said Supervisor of Instructional Support LouAnn Hudson as she presented awards to winners from each building.
Paraeducators, custodians, secretaries, nutritional staff, and school- and district-employed bus drivers and aides were eligible for the award, which was presented for the first time.
Other building winners are Matthew McNaught, Cape High custodian; Arthur Jones III, Beacon Middle behavior manager; Donna Lynch, Mariner Middle paraeducator; Tim Eitner, H.O. Brittingham fireman/custodian; Stacy Moore, Love Creek paraeducator; Amber Fuscellaro, Milton Elementary library manager, Kathleen Law, Rehoboth Elementary paraeducator; and Molly Siple, Sussex Consortium paraeducator.