My Turn: Randy Patterson

2020 MSEA ESP of the Year Randy Patterson is a paraeducator at Stevens Forest Elementary School in Howard County and the founder of Boys on a New Direction. Congratulations Randy!

My journey to Maryland eight years ago was filled with ups and downs. Coping with both the loss of my dear mother and find­ing employment in my new state was chal­lenging. My family, friends, and fraternity brothers of Phi Beta Sigma all assured me that my time would come. Discovering who you are and what you want to be can be difficult, so I felt it best to define who I wasn’t to help lead me to my purpose.

I have always lived a life of service but I had no idea that education would be the profession for me. In fact, it chose me— and it was Howard County and its public schools that would take me in. Stevens Forest Elementary be­came the place where I could help educate and influence students. That’s how I developed my WHY.

I strive to up-hold the dreams of those who came before me. I under­stand the need for change and to help facilitate that change by loving and embracing what I do in my role as an educator before, during, and after the school day. In 2019, I received the Howard County Public Schools Foundation Bright Minds Staff and Teacher Grant. With this grant, I established a program called Boys on a New Direction, with the goal of creat­ing a safe environment for young male students to develop social skills, discuss the value of education, and embrace diversity. Representation does matter. Being a Black man in education is a rarity and I feel obligated to be present, transpar­ent, and effect change where I stand.

For special events, I volunteer as our school mascot Bobby the Bobcat. Some of the students still don’t know it’s me and it feels good to see the joy on their faces when Bobby walks into the room. I am thrilled that the responsibilities and duties of life as an educator elevate me and allow me to bring joy to others.

Educators have been asked to do more with less for years, so advocating for me and fellow educators is important. As a board member of HCEA, my local union, I am able help lead our advocacy. Virtual learning has been a difficult transition for everyone, but my commitment to my role as a paraeducator has not wavered. During times like these, my strength comes from my mother who believed in God and His promises until her last days. I vow to educate patiently, advocate passionately, and inspire consistently.

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