MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Over 750 people were hired for the specialized education assistant (SEA) position for Shelby County Schools this year.
This comes two years after the passing of the Third Grade Retention Law.
School officials said SEAs have helped students get a better score on their TCAP exams.
Willow Oaks Elementary is one of the many schools participating in the progressive initiative by Memphis-Shelby County Schools to hire more specialized education assistants.
From a kindergarten specialized teaching assistant to a second-grade teacher at Willow Oaks Elementary.
Jamaica Clay Ewing is a second-grade teacher at Willow Oaks Elementary and said she finally found her purpose.
“They have to know you are there for them,” Clay-Ewing said. “So once I get them to trust me, we trust each other. I let them know I got their back.”
MSCS added over 600 SEA positions during the 2021 school year.
This comes after the passing of the Third Grade Retention law requiring students to take the English Language Arts (ELA) and Math exams.
Within the first year of adding SEAs to the classrooms, school officials said they saw a 5% increase in points for the ELA and a 4.3% increase in math.
“And helping them use the subject-verb agreement, how to make certain words plural. It’s just like, they come to me now and they are able to talk better, speak better, formulate sentences correctly,” Clay-Ewing said.
Clay-Ewing said it’s important for teachers and SEAs to provide additional support for children at a young age.
She said having SEAs can make a difference in the classrooms and give students the tools they need to succeed.
“They spell dint, so now they know it’s didn’t. So that makes a big difference to me. So I’m like, ‘oh, you do listen to me.’ I just love it,” said Clay-Ewing.
Clay-Ewing advises those with a passion for teaching to apply to the SEA position by visiting the MSCS career page.