Simple descriptions of what each job entails give context to the position, but may not be particularly useful if readers don’t already know the meaning of certain words, like “Coordinator” and “Administrative.” Context clues assist in understanding, and Kirkpatrick clearly lays out the distinction between “teacher aides” and “teaching assistants,” but at times some further explanation would have been welcome. The book is also relatively short, meaning only a few jobs are highlighted, which could perhaps be a function of it being crafted to serve as an introduction, but there are even more jobs that could have been named, inviting a chance for discussion.
These staff members deserve to be spotlighted, and giving kids names for the people they see in the school every day helps to build a feeling of community—and is a good step toward teaching respect. In fact, the book in many ways is a conversation starter, inviting readers and grownups to discuss the variety of functions a school serves, the variety of needs students and teachers have, and how it takes many people’s work to make it all happen. Best suited for young readers still getting used to the school environment or for parents and guardians looking to broaden their student’s understanding of the school environment, The Support Staff at Your School is a worthwhile starting point.
Takeaway: This picture book spotlights jobs within a school to show how much work goes into education.
Great for fans of: Lindsay Ward’s Helping Hospital, Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook’s Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-
By Robin Caudell Press-Republican
PLATTSBURGH — Andrew C. Kirkpatrick saw YouTube videos and online articles about how to make a passive income.
“The different suggestions were invest money in the stock market or get a second job,” he said.
“I’ve done the second job thing. I’ve had two or three jobs before. Make YouTube videos. I said, no thanks. Then, they said write a book. I’m like, what do I know? After some thought, I’m like oh yeah, I’m a support staff member. I wonder if anyone wrote a children’s book introducing kids to support staff members.”
Kirkpatrick is a teaching assistant now, but he does fill in as a teacher’s aide from time to time.
After searches on Google, Amazon and YouTube, he didn’t find anything.
“Everything is about parents, teachers, students, administrators, the community,” he said.
“Little to nothing is about support staff.”
Kirkpatrick typed up his manuscript within one or two days.
“It didn’t take me very long,” he said.
“I look online for publishing because I new nothing about the subject. I came across Palmetto Publishing. I got a hold of them at the end of September of last year, they’re a great company to work with, awesome people. It took a few month, but we got the book published and the rest is history.”
“The Support Staff at your School,” illustrated by Blake Marsee, doesn’t have a plot.
“It’s not a story book,” he said.
“It’s just an informational, instructional book. On the text page, it will say teacher aide. Then, underneath there’s a little paragraph and will tell you what they do. On the page next to it, it will have an illustration of a teacher aide working with a student.”
The book sections are: introduction, bus drivers and monitors, cafeteria staff, cleaners and custodians, home-school coordinators, mechanic, office staff, teacher aides and teaching assistants.
“A teacher aide works one-on-one with one, sometimes two children,” he said.
“A teacher aide is non-instructional. They are just there to provide support to keep kids on task, to help them with certain things. A teaching assistant is a licensed professional. You have to take some workshops. You have to take tests.
“So, there is an actual certificate. Not quite as involved as a teaching certificate though. Teaching assistants can provide instruction under the direction of a certified teacher or we can fill in as substitutes when needed.”
Kirkpatrick’s targeted audience is elementary students, ages Pre-K through fifth grade.
“The basic idea is if parents read this book to tell their children or maybe children can read it to their parents, it’s something for children and parents get to know the basics of the support staff that work at the school, work with their kids or around their kids.”
The book can be purchased online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
“I did do a book reading at the Wead Library in Malone on August 2,” he said.
“I did another reading at the Potsdam Public Library on August 4. On the Potsdam Public Library YouTube channel, they recorded me reading the book. So if people are interested in that.”
Born in Malone, he grew up in Brushton-Moira, a little bit Malone.
He graduated in the Class of 2000 from Brushton-Moira Central and attended North Franklin Educational Center in Malone for two years for culinary arts.
“I went to Paul Smith’s for two years for culinary, and then I kind of gave up on after that,” he said.
“Stress and epilepsy don’t mix.”
Kirkpatrick attended SUNY Potsdam and received a bachelor’s degree in history and stayed an extra year and got a bachelor’s degree in art history.
“Well I thought about being a teacher, but then like nah,” he said.
“Then I went to American Intercontinental University online, and I received a master’s in education. I’m not certified, and I have no desire to be a K-12 teacher. Too much technology. It’s not like it used to be.”
Kirkpatrick graduated in 2008 with his master’s degree and thought he would hit the ground running.
“Then, the economy tanked,” he said.
“Great timing by me. I don’t drive because of my vision, so that kind of limits me. I was living with mom in Brushton. Five and half years of pretty much unemployment, a couple of dead-end jobs here and there, I finally said, I’ll try it. I took the transportation bus and started subbing for Malone Central in the spring of 2013. Then, my fianceé and I moved to Malone in 2013.”
Kirkpatrick worked at K-Mart, when one of the teacher’s he subbed for told him about full-time positions for one-one aides.
“That’s what I did,” he said.
“I worked as a one-on-one from 2013 to 2016. Then, 2016 to May of 2019, I was a teaching assistant. May until August, I was an account clerk at BOCES. Then I was a teacher’s aide for Malone again until February of 2021.
“Now, I’m a teacher assistant again. I will try to stick with it this time.”
By Darren Perron
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 5:59 PM EDT|Updated: 18 hours ago
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - An employee at a North Country school wants you and your kids to know about the role of support staff.
So, he’s written a book about it.
Andrew Kirkpatrick is a teaching assistant in Malone, New York. He’s been working in education for about a decade and realized that many people don’t know what he or other support staff do. So he wrote a children’s book about the vital roles they play.
Kirkpatrick says, “I would hope that parents and kids read the book together, or parents read it to their kids, and it fosters more communication and parents can better advocate for the student.”
The book is now available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
Channel 3′s Darren Perron spoke with Kirkpatrick about his experience.
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