Meet Our General School Assistants

General School Assistants (GSAs) - The Heart and Soul of Cherry Crest

DID YOU KNOW…?

Every year, in addition to the teachers, administrative staff, and specialists that support our students, Cherry Crest employs General School Assistants (GSAs) that fill a wide variety of roles throughout the day and across the campus. Not only are our crossing guards, recess facilitators, and lunchroom supervisors GSAs, but GSAs put hours in the classroom at every grade level to support teachers, provide one-on-one instruction opportunities and lower teacher-to-student ratios to offer our students the most effective and impactful learning environments.

BUT WHAT ABOUT 2020?

You may be surprised to learn that this year is no different! Since September, GSAs have been joining in on Teams lessons, running many of the small-group learning sessions, and helping our teachers with a variety of classroom content management, grading and other administrative tasks to help our online classes run smoothly. 

GSAs are a crucial element in making Cherry Crest not only an exceptional learning environment, but an exceptional community as well. And guess what?!? GSAs are possible only through the generosity of the PTSA, which funds a substantial portion of the annual GSA budget. Funding GSAs is the number one use of PTSA donations – our commitment to directly enhance our students’ safety and learning at Cherry Crest.

BUT DONT TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT!

We want to share with you who are GSAs are, which classrooms they help in, the wide variety of responsibilities they have, and stories from our classrooms to get the word out about how important these staff members are to our school and community!

Ms. Gayle

Years at CC: 4th year, currently remote support
Classrooms: Ms. Atia, Ms. Chariton, Ms Gilbert, Ms. Hemker, Ms. Jessa, Ms. Stevens
Responsibilities: Paraeducator, one-on-one student education, small group instruction, social-emotional student education and support, developing and managing movement breaks, researching topics for teachers and much more!
Fun Fact: I am a professional choreographer, instructor, and performer for dance & theatre, I often use these skills to connect with the students. I do my best to make learning FUN!

"Ms.Gayle knows American Sign Language and has a background in dance and theater. This week, she electrified the assembly by sharing a chant about identity that students in multiple grade (and now the whole school knows) learned to celebrate their work around personal identity. She also partnered with our Multilingual Learners facilitator to learn the chant as it supported classroom learning."

- Ms. Stevens (4th/5th Grade Teacher)

Ms. Kelley

Years at CC: 2nd year, currently remote support
Classrooms: Ms. Atia, Ms. Hemker, Ms. Jessa, Ms. Lee, Mr. Regala, Ms. Stevens, Ms. Tamayo
Responsibilities: Monitor chat, help students with math (small groups, one-on-one), monitor assignment completion, host games, provide tech support to teachers & students, prepare teaching materials, administer quizzes/tests, create & grade math tests & homework, and create survey forms & sign-up sheets.
Fun Fact: I volunteer with birthdaydreams.org to provide birthday cakes for homeless children and families.

"I am SO thankful that Ms. Kelley made the Unit 4 math test A into a Forms! I normally use ThinkCentral, but now ThinkCentral is blocked from Adobe and kids can’t use it without Adobe running it. I panicked since I didn’t have another option, but was relieved to find the Forms as a plan B! I will plan on having my students use the Forms for all future tests given that Adobe doesn’t work. Thanks you Ms. Kelley!"

- Ms. Morel (3rd Grade AL Teacher)

Mr. Joe

Years at CC: 2nd year, currently remote support Classrooms: Ms. Cordell, Ms. Elms, Ms. Gibbs, Ms. Hanson, Ms. Lux, Ms. Wells Responsibilities: Monitor chat, small group facilitator, individual student support and intervention, virtual recess, socio-emotional student education and support, and coordinating with teachers to best serve students. Fun Fact: My two cats, Eli and Harley, have been known to pop up in my Microsoft Teams meetings.

"Mr. Joe has been meeting with my daughter every day to support her in reading fluency. She looks forward to their meetings. It has been very successful."

- Sheli Hadari (2nd Grade Parent)

Ms. Johnson

Years at CC: 2nd year, currently in building Classrooms: Ms. Cordell, Ms. Elms, Ms. Hanson, Ms. Stevens, Ms. Sung, Ms. Wells Responsibilities: Monitor chat, small groups facilitator, individual student support, on-site student supervision, testing proctor, and extensive teacher support. Unique roles: I am a PDA (Parent Designated Adult) for a student in first grade.

"Ms. Johnson provides invaluable support to our class. During our whole group instruction, she often helps students catch up after having a technology issue. She provides individual students the help they need, while allowing the class keep our pace. She helps me monitor student engagement and understanding during the meeting; and several times she’s had to rescue me when I’ve been kicked off calls. In the afternoons, she meets with students for extra practice and support with our assignments. I don’t know what I would do without her!"

- Mrs. Wells (2nd Grade Teacher)

Ms. Durga

Years at CC: 3rd year, currently remote support Classrooms: Ms. Chariton, Ms. Repass, Ms. Sung, Ms. Tatterson, Ms. Therriault Responsibilities: Taking attendance, tech support in class meetings, virtual recess, providing tips & tricks during math lessons, small group teaching, creating Kahoots, teacher support with materials/grading, and monitoring assignment completion. Fun Fact: I love to solve puzzles and riddles and learn new tips and tricks to solve math problems, which I share with my students.

"Mrs. Durga is amazing! She has been a wonderful help to me and my students. Currently she is monitoring my afternoon class on Monday to support students, the chat, and attendance. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons she meets with one of my small groups while I meet with the other group. She conducts lesson connected practice or games that I have designed to give students supported practice time. Finally, on Fridays, she runs recess groups for students to have a non-academic opportunity to connect with each other. I cannot say enough about how much Mrs. Durga helps me and the students. Thank you to PTSA for helping to fund all of our GSA support."

- Ms. Therriault (3rd Grade Teacher)

Ms. Levinson

Years at CC: 4th year; currently in building
Classrooms: Ms. Tatterson, Ms. Therriault
Responsibilities: virtual recess, small group instruction for reading and math, create nearpods, proctor test, follow up with students on assignment completion, help with lesson planning, monitor chats, raised hands and student focus during class, help run jump rope club, host office hours to help with homework, facilitate positive relationships between students and teachers and much more!
Fun Fact: I have written four books, including a memoire, (all available on Amazon) and I love to draw and sketch. I was born in Bulgaria and came to the U.S. when I was only 6.5 years old and didn’t know any English.  I know what its like for our students here at CC that are in this stage and can relate to them, and I share that with them!

Popping into the class meeting a few minutes prior to the official start time gives me time to connect with students the same way I would connect with them as we would be lining up outside before the 8:00 bell if we were at school. We talk about what we had (or are having!) for breakfast, we say good morning in our home language, we share morning stories such as, “I didn’t sleep well last night because I was worried about something...” During these few minutes I can set a positive tone for the day and make some nice personal connections before the structured learning time begins! The other morning we all laughed together when they shared something that was hilarious over the weekend. I am building community every day!

- Ms. Levinson (GSA)

Mr. Darrell

Years at CC: 2nd year
Classrooms: Ms. Carpenter, Ms. Glibert, Ms. Jessa, Ms. Lux, Mr. Panther, Mr. Regala, Ms. Stevens, Ms. Tamayo
Responsitilities: Monitor chat, attendance and raised hands; facilitate/teach small student study groups; work one-on-one with students; designated adult support for one student; proctor tests, co-teach SOAR classes.
Fun Fact: I’m a retired college Culinary Arts Instructor.

"Mr. T has been a lovely friend to our family. He always made our son and his friends feel a part of the school as new kindergarteners last year, and this year during group recess time by setting up a live MS Teams interactive drawing times including creating a super-cool race-car and space fight comic strip with Colias!"

- Sandra Featherly (1st Grade Parent)