“She puts students’ needs first.” “She can put a smile on your face in seconds, despite difficult times.” “When it’s time to be serious, she’s serious.” Those were just a few of the many things said about G. Stanley Hall Elementary’s Stefanie Kalal.
Kalal was honored as a Nebraska Paraprofessional Educator of the Year on Wednesday during a special all-school assembly.
This honor, which has been awarded to one or two paraprofessional educators each year for the past 27 years, is given based upon nominations and recommendations from staff, families and students.
During the program, Jane Byers, director of special services with the Papillion-La Vista School District, said just how important this award is.
There are thousands of para-educators throughout the state of Nebraska, she said, and there are more than 340 inside PLSD alone. From all these para-educators, Kalal was selected.
“This is very exciting,” she said.
Byers also read a sample of the submissions and recommendations for Kalal before Kalal herself stood before the assembly.
Kalal, who has been with G. Stanley Hall for seven years, said she appreciates all the kind words as well as support, humor and patience she’s received from her family, staff and, most of all, the students.
“Thank you for your patience during math lessons, I appreciate it,” she added with a laugh.
After the assembly, Kalal and her family had a small reception with her coworkers.
She told the Times she is happy para-educators are being recognized for their efforts in classroms, but felt slightly uncomfortable being the focus of that recognition.
“Everyone likes to be recognized,” Kalal said, “but I feel it’s more of a team effort.”
She said she wanted to give a special thank you to G. Stanley Hall and its staff for all the encouragement and support.