Faculty of Applied Health & Community Studies
Degree: Educational Assistant
Year of graduation: 2009
The Joys of Learning
Samantha Kennedy’s days are filled with the challenges and joys of assisting children with special needs. As an Educational Resource Facilitator with the Peel District School Board, she works with eight students alongside four other staff at a high school geared specifically for students with special needs. The students require a range of assistance – dealing with medical issues, developing life skills, or transitioning to work following their school year.
It is rewarding to help these students achieve their individual goals, whatever their needs are, says Samantha, who worked previously at an elementary school supporting children with autism.
She sees a brighter future for special needs students and their families as educational support professionals have grown to become a critical component of school programs.
“There is a general understanding that we all learn at our own pace and in our own way. I see students of all needs being given the opportunity to learn without discrimination and a future where educators work together to create the best environment for students of all abilities.”
Samantha started working in the education system as a part-time classroom assistant when her two sons were in school full-time. Unable to transition to a full-time position without the required qualifications, she came to Sheridan. “People who were already in my field of choice said that the program at Sheridan was second to none, with experts in the field and years of experience to back up what they were teaching,” recalls Samantha, who “thoroughly loved the process of learning.”
Since graduation, she has maintained her Sheridan connection, working as a part-time instructor and field placement supervisor in the Educational Assistant program.
Returning to school as a mature student with a family, and building her career has not always been easy, says Samantha, particularly since she was widowed in 2011. “The kids were young – 9 and 12. They still are, but we've managed to come together quite well with the support of family and friends.”
Learn more about Sheridan’s Educational Support program