CCHAT Spotlight: Instructional Aides
CCHAT is home to an incredible staff of teachers of the deaf, speech-language pathologists and audiologists. These professionals are dedicated to providing the children who are deaf and hard of hearing in our program with top-level listening and spoken language services.
There is another position on the CCHAT staff that is instrumental to the success and well-being of CCHAT students. The CCHAT team includes a group of instructional aides who go above and beyond for CCHAT kids on a daily basis.
What is an Instructional Aide?
Each classroom at CCHAT includes at least one instructional aide. This person works as a teammate and assistant for the class’ teacher of the deaf.
In this role, an instructional aide could be tasked with a number of jobs critical to the success of the students. This can include classwork preparation, classroom cleaning, and hearing assistive technology troubleshooting. Duties vary based on the age of the class – aides in younger classes may assist in potty training, while aides in primary grades may help administer tests and coursework.
More importantly is the relationship an aide forms with the students. While the teacher leads the classroom, the instructional aide may be asked to assist students individually in order to help them with specific lessons or classroom behaviors. Additionally, instructional aides oversee recess and outdoor play, helping children navigate different situations on the playground. These duties help the aides form strong bonds with students, and the students often look to CCHAT’s aides for love and support throughout their day on campus.
CCHAT also benefits from an instructional aide staff in which many members also hold substitute teaching credentials. This allows them to fill in when a teacher is forced to miss time due to student meetings or parent conferences. In this way, classroom continuity is highlighted, as the instructional aide ensures that children have a familiar face in the classroom, one who is aware of each child’s needs and goals.
Meet CCHAT’s Instructional Aides
CCHAT currently has six instructional aides assisting students and teachers across campus.
Timbre Hughes and Leslie Calderon serve as first-year instructional aides in CCHAT’s toddler class. Both have career aspirations of becoming speech therapists, meaning CCHAT’s language-rich environment with a staff of experts is especially beneficial to their own development.
“My favorite part about being an instructional aide is interacting with the kids!” says Timbre, who also has a previous connection to CCHAT, as her cousin Harrison is an alumni student.
The preschool instructional aide is Bella Harder. The daughter of CCHAT speech-language pathologist Michelle, Bella actually attended CCHAT as a reverse mainstream student when she was a child. Her calm, assertive presence has been the perfect match for CCHAT’s younger students.
Judy Zilkie is CCHAT’s longest-tenured instructional aide, currently working in the pre-kindergarten class. Since 2010, Judy has been showering CCHAT children with love while also serving as an invaluable support for families new to their hearing loss journey.
“I love my job,” Judy says. “I love this school and am grateful to be a part of the language development I see happening every day.”
CCHAT alumni student Dominique Smith works in the kindergarten class. Her first-hand knowledge in handling hearing loss, managing equipment and preparing for life in the mainstream helps her serve as an incredible resource for both children and families in the class.
Melissa Lay serves in the primary class, and she recently completed her graduate program on the path to becoming a teacher. Students in CCHAT’s oldest group have benefited from Melissa’s ability to lead the classroom, as she learns from and works alongside experienced teacher Melissa McNamara.
CCHAT instructional aides sometimes fly under the radar, but staff, families and students know the enormous role they fulfill on our campus. Their wide-ranging responsibilities help CCHAT continue running smoothly, and their ability to connect with students helps each child reach his/her full potential in a loving environment.
CCHAT is proud of its entire staff and grateful for each of their contributions to our mission. Learn more about these amazing individuals by visiting our ABOUT page.