Today marks the second annual Educational Assistant and Child & Youth Worker Appreciation Day at the Waterloo Region District School Board. Educational Assistants (EA) help to deliver educational programs in our schools, while Child Youth Workers (CYW) are mental health professionals who work with troubled children who face a variety of emotional, behavioural or physical problems. Today, we recognize the key role EAs and CYWs play in maintaining safe and productive workplaces and learning environments.

The EA and CYW enable students whose issues would preclude inclusion to be part of the typical student body. This not only benefits the individual student but the entire student body as it teaches everyone the values of inclusion, acceptance and adaptation.

This work doesn’t go unnoticed, as Lynn Schulze, head of the ESL Department at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, explained. EAs are, on paper, hired to assist with the academic part of class, but to her, this is not an adequate description of their true value.

“The EAs have the tough task of following the highest needs kids around for most of the day. While teachers may teach these challenging students for, maybe one period a day, EAs often spend more time with them than their own parents or host families do,” said Schulze.

The dedication and patience exemplified by EAs and CYWs are what stands out most to Schulze. It would be hard to imagine a day of school without their efforts.

“EAs and CYWs are crucial in helping every student feel successful and included in their school,” John Bryant, Director of Education, explained.

He feels it’s important to recognize the role they play in our schools.

“I am happy to take time to recognize the important role EAs and CYWs play every day in our schools. Teachers, parents and students will all tell you that every student’s experience is improved by the hard work that is done by EAs and CYWs in our Board.”

We encourage you to join the community and WRDSB in marking your appreciation for this important group of staff. If you’d like to join in sharing your thanks on social media, use the hashtag #EACYWAppreciationDay.

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