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Gov. Inslee appoints Pamella Johnson to Paraeducator Board

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Rochester's Pamella Johnson brings unique ESP voice to state appointment.

Paraeducators are using our unity and strength to advocate for what our students and our families need, and now we have an additional powerful voice for our professions statewide. Gov. Inslee has appointed WEA Board Director, NEA Board Director and Rochester ESP member Pamella Johnson to serve on the nine-member Paraeducator Board. A social emotional behavioral interventionist at Rochester High School, Johnson is a passionate advocate for paraeducators and our students.

"I need people to understand our role is critical to all that goes on in schools," Johnson says. "From custodians to office staff to nutrition services to classroom supports, we run the school from unlocking in the morning to locking up at night."

Johnson first became involved in advocacy by attending an Education Support Professional conference where she met now WEA Vice President Janie White and Seattle EA member and ESP activist Vallerie Fisher, who encouraged her to use her voice to elevate ESP needs.

"Knowing their enthusiasm and their vision, I knew I had to be more involved," Johnson remembers. “There's just so much paras do behind the scenes that isn’t appreciated or compensated, and we are so important to our students." 

As a member of the Paraeducator Board, Johnson will help set policy around paraeducator training, certification and standards. The Board, created in 2017 as a result of successful WEA member advocacy, is currently reviewing the state’s new standards for cultural competency, diversity, equity and inclusion (CCDEI) training.

"CCDEI standards should guide every single thing we do in schools," Johnson notes. "As our schools serve more and more students of color, we need to make sure we’re fully serving our BIPOC students."

Johnson also intends to use her seat to speak out for paraeducator appreciation and pay.

"We need to stand together as certificated and classified and demand that we value our paraeducators more. Too many of us are quitting and there’s not enough people coming into the field to hire."

Johnson's term began in March and continues through August 2023. 

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