My Turn: Jameyra Finney

“I’ve found that there is always a student somewhere who needs you.”

It’s not often that people work at a job they truly love — but I do. I work as a special education instructional assistant, assisting teachers and working one-on-one with students in pre-k through fifth grade.

I started working in the school system as a substitute where my former principal saw my passion and dedication and offered me a job as a full-time substitute. This is when doors began to open for me. Two months later, I took a position as a special ed IA. I have always been a bit of a dreamer, but now with an encouraging family, teachers, and strong support system, I’ve found a new place for myself at school where I can encourage and support others. Family is important, and that’s what my students have become. I’ve found that there is always a student somewhere who needs you.

Being a teacher has always been my dream. Now I’m in my second year of studying early childhood education and early childhood special education at Chesapeake College. It’s not easy balancing college, working my full-time job at school and a second one part-time, and parenting my two teenagers on my own. It is definitely a challenge, but my experience at Ridgely Elementary has helped guide me towards my dream.

I’ve recently become active in my union, the Caroline County Education Association (CCEA). This summer I met MSEA staff who are organizing education support members on the Eastern Shore and who invited me to a leadership training. After the training, MSEA took me under its wing for three weeks as we went from school to school to speak with extraordinary support professionals about the association and recruit many of them to join CCEA. I had a chance to learn more about the many issues my colleagues face and pass them on to the local.

One of the most important things I discovered is that every one of us has a special story to tell about our unique work experience — but no one will ever know it unless we tell it. That’s how we become stronger and improve our lives. For me, being part of these discussions that can lead to real change and improvement in our working lives is meaningful and rewarding.

My message to my colleagues is that because our jobs are as challenging as they are rewarding, we need the help of each and every one of us to make sure our voices are heard — that’s how we can make a difference.