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Erin Morrison Named 2021-2022 DPS Instructional Assistant of the Year

Being an Instructional Assistant (IA) has been a lesson in self-reflection for Erin Morrison, named DPS Instructional Assistant of the Year today.  She applied for the IA position at the behest of a friend and has learned much about herself and the role during her five-year tenure.

Thinking initially that the position's responsibilities consisted mainly of student monitoring and “other duties as assigned,” she had come to realize that Instructional Assistants provide intensive support. As an IA, she facilitates small group reading and math interventions and tracks each student’s data, and reports it to the MTSS team.

She considers herself meticulous where data is concerned and has recently been accepted into the TA to Teachers program to earn her teacher certification.

“I spend a ridiculous amount of time fine-tuning my data to make sure it reflects if the child made proficient growth or if we need to discuss other options,” said Morrison.  And where time is concerned, Morrison gives her time willingly, arriving by 6:30 a.m. and staying until after 3:30 p.m. to take care of her students. She is also an active School Improvement Team member, a founding member of Parkwood’s Trauma-Informed Learning Team with Duke, and sits on the principal selection committee as the school begins its work to find a successor for departing principal Anna Rusconi.

Morrison understands the critical importance of community engagement. “I try my best to make myself available to my students and families by providing a service whenever possible.”  She further stated in the essay required for her nomination, “I thrive in positivity and joy, and I try my best to build a community and to interact with each and every person I encounter. I love building relationships with students, and I try to mitigate conflicts whenever I can. I also work on being open and communicative with parents and staff and I try to seek better understanding versus being closed-minded. I am always willing to volunteer and lend a hand if needed, and ultimately, I love being a Parkwood Panther.”

She gives her IA colleagues all over the district their due.

“Instructional Assistants are a huge asset to all schools and without them, most schools would not be able to function as seamlessly. We cover classrooms for teachers at a moment’s notice and we’re able to pick up instruction as if we’re in that classroom every day. Our resiliency is seen in our ability to adjust and adapt to any situation and still pick up where we left off as if nothing happened. We are welcoming faces that students see every day in their classrooms and in the hallways and we nurture and support their growth.”