SHE is now a much-loved education assistant, but it wasn’t too long ago that Karen Warren lived through not one, not two, but three armed hold ups at the bank where she once worked.
After going through those three terrifying ordeals in the space of just six months, Ms Warren pulled the plug on her banking career and returned to the teaching studies she had given up more than two decades earlier.
Now back enjoying work at Challis Community Primary School where she focuses on helping special needs students, Ms Warren was recently recognised for her dedication when she was named the WA Education Assistant of the Year.
The successful implementation of her innovative new program called STRIVE, which works to give students the tailored social and academic support they needed, was among the achievements Ms Warren was congratulated on.
“STRIVE was created from a conversation I had with my principal where we spoke about the need to do things differently in order to best meet the needs of our students with special needs,” she said.
“STRIVE ensures that these students get intensive, individualised support in a separate classroom while also giving them time in mainstream classes to maintain social and academic connections with their peers and teachers.
“A Year 1 child with an intellectual disability and significant speech impairment came to us, not able to recognise her feelings and barely speaking one word answers, but since joining STRIVE this year, not only is she able to clearly communicate her feelings but she’s exceeded our expectations in reading and writing too.”
Ms Warren said she was “extremely honoured” to receive the award and hoped it would lead to more recognition for the hard work and dedication of education assistants.
“I feel that they are the unsung heroes of the classroom who put in an enormous amount of time and effort to ensure that teachers are supported and the needs of our students are being met.”