[ OUR SRPs ]

Getting to know … Helen Barkley

Helen Barkley

Helen Barkley, a middle and high school teaching assistant, is president of the Warsaw Support Staff. She was interviewed by Angie Rivera, president of the Rochester Association of Paraprofessionals and SRP At-Large Director on the NYSUT Board.

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

There are many facets to what I do throughout a day, from working with my co-workers, with my students and being the president of my union. I am a teaching assistant and I love my job.

The administrators are a great group in my school, whom I not only consider my mentors but my friends. Co-workers are like my family. The students are a diverse group of children who keep me running in all directions and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As the students graduate and move on to their future, many of them still reach out to me and keep me a part of their circle. I feel very blessed to know I have made an impact in their lives.

How are you involved in the union?

I have been the union president for a number of years now. I feel very fortunate to be working with a group of people who voted me in for this important role. They trust me to do what is right for them and to be a sounding board as well as someone who will walk that extra mile for them. I have worked in many areas at the school, I have a broad idea of what everyone’s jobs are and how hard they work. I try to create an atmosphere where they know I am here for them and they have a voice.

How do you make a difference?

First and foremost, I try to make a difference in the lives of our students. We have students who need the extra love and guidance. They know I am available and will always make time for them. I support them academically, and supply them with school supplies.

Second, I work hard to be fair and present when my colleagues, staff and administrators need assistance. I always maintain confidentiality. I always try to meet the needs and goals of my peers to the best of my abilities.

Are you involved in the community? Any hobbies?

I have lived in this community for 59 years. I have worked at fundraisers for many causes and people. I not only stand for the people I work with, but also the people I grew up with and my community. My heart is full because of my family and the people who become an extension of that.

I love to read, paint and do crafts. I love to spend time with my children and husband.