[ OUR SRPs ]

Getting to know … Michelle Richardson-Wilson

A portrait photographic headshot of Michelle Richardson-Wilson smiling

Michelle Richardson-Wilson, a member of the Rochester Association of Paraprofessionals, is a lead pre-K paraprofessional in the Rochester City School District. She was interviewed by NYSUT Board member Angie Rivera, president of the Rochester AP and a member of the NYSUT SRP Advisory Committee.

Tell me about your job and why you love what you do.

Education is such an important piece in a child’s life. Many students call school their home away from home. As an educator I have found that a student must have trust, faith and confidence in the staff at school.

My job is very exciting and busy. I am the pre-K representative for on-boarding and orientation with the Human Capital Department for newly hired pre-K paraprofessionals. I provide an overview of expectations, roles and responsibilities while in the prekindergarten setting.

In this role, I visit classrooms to model for pre-k paraprofessionals how to maintain a safe, healthy learning environment for students and encourage positive adult-child interactions including modeling hygienic support for pre-K students.

I also observe prekindergarten paraprofessionals to ensure performance roles are being carried out with fidelity and provide positive feedback. Also important to mention, I suggest and explain constructive approaches to conflict resolution between teacher and paraprofessional.

Another exciting part of my role is I get to plan and present staff development sessions in collaboration with teachers to more than 300 staff, including community-based organizations.

Why did you get involved with your union?

I wanted to be a support to all paraprofessionals. That is what my mentors did for me when I became a part of the RCSD.

My paraprofessional colleagues encouraged me to take on this role. With over 20 years of experience and knowledge of being a paraprofessional, I seemed to naturally become a point of contact for my peers whenever there was a question or a conflict.

How do you make a difference?

I make a difference by being the listening ear, the shoulder to cry on and the one for my peers to lean on when they need it.

One of the best ways I can answer the question is to share a message that I received from one of my peers:

“Michelle, you are a great leader; you know us, you listen to us, you are in the trenches with us. I have a great deal of respect for you.”

What kinds of activities do you participate in outside of work? Any hobbies?

I am a parent advocate and spokesperson for Lifetime Assistance Inc. I partner with the local library system to do story times, attend community functions to represent the Rochester school district and I am a committee member for the RAEYC Fall Conference. I was also a VIP Reader for the annual Month of The Young Child celebration.

I enjoy gardening, cooking, decorating, organizing, giving back to others (community, friends, neighbors, anyone in need). Most of all, I enjoy spending time with my family.