They work with students in the classroom, in the school office or even in the cafeteria – and in celebration of American Education Week, one state organization is honoring a Pennsylvania education support professional for her dedication to students.
Dee Scales has been named the Dolores McCracken Education Support Professional of the Year by the Pennsylvania State Education Association. Scales, a paraprofessional and union leader in the Woodland Hills School District in Allegheny County, said she’s thankful for the award and for the work support professionals do to keep schools running.
“It means so much to me because it actually highlights all the hard work that not only myself, but other support professionals do throughout the whole United States,” she said. “We have other support staff such as bus drivers. We have our custodians and maintenance workers. There are so many different titles that we support staff carry within the public school system.”
Wednesday also marked Education Support Professionals Day. Scales has been a paraprofessional at Woodland Hills for 26 years, where she currently works with students in an emotional-support classroom.
Outside school, Scales also is heavily involved in her town of Braddock, where she recently was elected council member-at-large. She’s a volunteer with the annual 15104 Clean Up Day, focused on picking up litter in Braddock, and the 412 Food Rescue, which helps feed thousands around Pittsburgh.
Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, called Scales “a role model.”
“Dee is making such a tremendous difference in the lives of her students every day,” he said. “She brings with her such knowledge and dedication; that’s what the key to Dee’s success is with children. She also gives so much back to her colleagues, because she’s a powerful advocate for educational support professionals.”
Scales serves as president of PSEA’s Education Support Professionals Western Division and sits on the organization’s Racial Justice and Equity Taskforce, among other committee positions.