Allied educators feel joy when students flourish
Those providing learning and behaviour support help students with mild special needs like dyslexia
From rejecting her at first, a student with mild autism now refers to Madam Germaine Png as his "guardian angel in school".
It was an affirmation for the then new allied educator (AED) from a secondary school.
Madam Png, 33, told The New Paper: "It showed that even though students might not be receptive initially, they come to realise that we are here to help them and most of them open up and want to receive support."
On Oct 22, the MOE announced that AEDs providing learning and behavioural support (LBS) will have their own development track when the allied educator scheme is split into distinct tracks in 2022.
There will also be a greater number of higher-level positions created.
Meanwhile, not seeing immediate improvement in students is among the challenges faced by AEDs.
They give after-school interventions to support students in mainstream schools who have mild special needs such as dyslexia, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
To find the right strategy to help them, AED (LBS) Lourdes Maria said they spend time understanding these students, who have a broad range of needs and exhibit different extent of behavioural difficulties.
Ms Maria, 40, who will be one of the first two educators to be appointed as lead AEDs (LBS) in January next year, said: "We have to find out exactly why a child is behaving in a certain way, and then manage the triggers and teach them how to manage their issues."
To help the students develop, AEDs (LBS) work with their parents, teachers and classmates to get them on board in support of the students.
Ms Maria and Madam Png, who each spent 10 years as AEDs in a secondary school, are now placed at the Ministry of Education (MOE) headquarters.
Despite the challenges, there are rewards that come with the job.
Madam Png said: "We are happy when we see classmates befriending these students... and reaching out to them.
"I also feel proud when I see my students having the courage to come to school every day despite the challenges they face."
Ms Maria finds joy in helping students grow.
She said: "When students come to us... they are often at their lowest points and have self-esteem issues.
"When they flourish after spending four or five years and do well academically, that is the most rewarding."