California Educator

April / May 2018

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C A R O L C O U R N E Y A ' S passions range from her family and cooking and host- ing themed dinner parties for friends, to designing children's jewelry with crystals and semiprecious stones. Many would add that she is equally enthused and energetic — if not more so — about her work as an instructional assistant and u n i o n a d v o c a t e . Fo r h e r many years of dedicated and effective service, Courneya has been named 2018 Paula J. Monroe CTA Education Sup- port Professional of the Year. Courneya is humbled by the honor, saying she loves her role as a paraprofessional with the special education students at Beverly Hills High School, a position she's held for almost two decades. "I serve students in many different capacities — whatever the kids need," she says, whether that be help with Spanish, science or English, studying for an exam, or applying for college. She is proud of the trusting relation- ships she builds with students. "I treat each student with respect and listen to their concerns and help them in their academic needs. Because of the trust and how students relate to me, they are very comfortable sharing their problems and look to me for advice and guidance." A s for w ork w ith th e B e v erly Hi l l s E d u c a t i o n A s s o c i a t i o n ( BH E A ) , w h ere sh e's h el d p o s i t i o n s r a n g i n g f r o m president of her classified unit to head of its bargain- i n g t e a m , i t 's a l a b o r o f love. " The whole thing is a joy, not a chore or a task," sh e say s ab out h elpin g to promote the union, keep it strong and motivate people to stay. " C a r o l i s w i l l i n g t o g o a b o v e a n d beyond to get things done," says Telly Tse, president of BHEA, which has 400 members. He recalls how hard she fought to get respect for ESPs in the Beverly Hills Unified School District, especially after discovering inequities compared with neighboring districts. "Historically with professional development days in " I treat each individual student with respect and listen to their concerns." A Matter of Trust Carol Courneya is CTA's 2018 ESP of the Year Carol Courneya • Instructional Assistant, Beverly Hills High School • Member, Beverly Hills Education Association; president of the classified unit • Lives in Culver City, where she grew up; husband Luke; children Amanda Rose, 19; and Lucas Dillon, 13 • Background: child and adult actress; artist "of many sorts" our district, ESPs are an after- thought. Carol advocated for her unit members, and now ESPs are included in professional develop- ment." Tse says she also bargained into the contract more equity and consistency in salary and benefits for classified staff. Courneya says her detailed knowledge of district policy allows her to speak up. For example: "Monday is a PD day about safety — including active shooter training and CPR. Instructional assistants are not necessarily included, so technically that's a day off with no pay. Working with the knowledge I have, it popped into my head that back in August we were approved for 20 hours of PD. " I a s k e d i f w e c o u l d u s e s o m e o f those hours for this day, and the dis- trict entrusted me to organize the other instructional assistants for the profes- sional development day." Trust is clearly the operative word with Courneya. Her trusting relationship with district administrators is built on years of BHEA advocacy work. Her colleagues trust that she will get the job done with their best interests in mind. And students come to her knowing she will fully sup- port them, academically and personally. C o u r n e ya s ay s th e ke y to h er su c- cess i s more than that, howe ver. "O n my end, it's transparency and honesty. That's the secret." Celebrate CTA ESP Day on May 22. See for ideas. 60 CTA & You

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