Lewisburg High student serves as special education aide | News

LEWISBURG — A Lewisburg High School senior has found his calling, and it fits in nicely with an opportunity to be a special education aide at Kelly Elementary School, through the district’s “13th year” of education.

Student Dale Keister said, “13th year is basically training. It helps me get experience at the school. and helps me with what I have to get used to in the future.”

The school district has been very purposeful in offering opportunities “for students like Dale who have interests in the education field, to fully experience the elementary school age,” said Anthony Caruso, a teacher at Kelley Elementary School.

Keister’s tasks are similar to what a student teacher would do, Caruso added, “but this is more of a field work study, to observe and even apply some skills. Dale has acted as kind of a shadow, starting out two, three years ago. Over that time, he has become more independent.”

When Keister started as an aide, he would come maybe once or twice a week for two-hour shifts, Caruso said, and then it moved to a full day.

“Now, he is here every day,” Caruso said. “He has a full schedule that he is following and he is interacting mostly with second- and third-graders in the classroom.

Keister starts his day in Caruso’s homeroom, “and I take the kids to their classrooms, and help them learn in the classroom,” Keister said. “Then throughout the day I go to other classrooms to help. I also have recess and lunch duty.”

“He is getting the full experience right now,” Caruso said. “We are building up his skills. Building up his confidence. We hope it will lead to full employment. So, we are very excited for him.”

“I just really like working here,” Keister said, when asked if he had other options. “Because it is what I want to do in the future.”

“For Dale, this is a prelude to being a full employee,” Caruso noted. “This is like his training period, to hone his skills, by observing other teachers and educators. All to find his voice and purpose. That’s what he working on this year.”

Keister has several personal strengths, Caruso said. “I would describe him as very dependable. I have seen a lot of growth in him over the years because we have been working together. He takes a lot of pride in his role. He has the confidence to redirect students and motivate them. And, he is not shy in challenging kids who might be a little hyper. Dale encourages and motivates them.

“Occasionally, he even talks about his days when he was a student in Kelly. He provides a really strong male presence, which we need at the elementary level.”

Seeing Keister connect with students has been “absolutely awesome,” Caruso said. “I look forward to seeing him grow and become even more independent. His full mindset is helping the kids.”

Keister likes everything about his work at Kelly. “I like the students and staff. They are all really friendly and the staff is supportive.”

Keister said his parents are “very supportive and very proud” of the path he is on.

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