Celebrating Education Support Professionals during American Education Week, November 13-16, 2018
Teaching Assistant, Jackson Heights Elementary School
“These kids need to know people are cheering them on,” believes Teaching Assistant Regina McClenning. “Everyone needs to feel important and be given what they need to succeed. Sometimes it’s by teaching them skills, but often it’s just by being a smiling face and showing you care.”
That care is obvious to anybody stepping into the kindergarten classrooms at Jackson Heights Elementary, where Mrs. McClenning supports instruction in math, reading, and writing.
“She has an eye on each child and just knows what he or she needs … and then works to make sure each child feels secure, cared for, and is ready to learn,” notes kindergarten teacher Leslie Bickford. “She has a calm presence, and children are happy and comfortable working with her.”
“Gina is kind, considerate, and patient,” echoes teacher Christy Shpur. “She helps them in small groups with their reading and math skills, always making it a fun and positive experience. The kids seek her out for support and truly appreciate all she does.”
Mrs. McClenning has been the kindergarten TA at Jackson Heights for the past four years, having re-entered the workforce after staying home with her own children until they were all school age. She wanted a job with hours conducive to being home when her kids were, but she says she has found so much more in the role of TA.
“Working in the kindergarten classrooms has been more fulfilling than I could have imagined,” says Mrs. McClenning. “Being a part of young children’s education has been exciting. It’s a job that’s never boring…exhausting, but not boring. Trying to figure out how to encourage and motivate students is a fun challenge.”
And that’s a challenge she tackles head-on. “Regina is an incredibly reliable aide who is willing to help with any situation,” says Principal Carrie Mauro. “Her flexibility and adaptability is such a strength she brings to her position.”
“Gina is funny and uses humor regularly to help with stressful situations,” adds Mrs. Bickford.
“The best part of working in a school is the positive effect you can have on so many lives,” Mrs. McClenning says. “Seeing kids go from a limited knowledge of the alphabet to becoming readers is my favorite part of kindergarten. I love coming to the end of the school year being amazed at the growth kids make.”
“Regina gives her heart and so much love to Jackson Heights students, and we are all so very lucky to have her at Jackson Heights!” says Mrs. Mauro.
Mrs. McClenning is a graduate of Argyle Central School and SUNY Plattsburgh. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 16 years, and has three children, ages 8, 11, and 13, who attend Glens Falls City School District.
Glens Falls City School District celebrates national American Education Week by highlighting our “school superheroes” whose various careers touch the lives of our students and pave the way for success. Education Support Professionals—our teacher aides, teaching assistants, secretaries, custodians, and many other team members—play a crucial role in every school building, every day.