In-Demand Careers That Feed the Heart
Fulfilling and rewarding careers that await those with a desire to support others is the focus of an upcoming information session hosted by Selkirk College and School District 20.
Providing specialized support for students with identified disabilities, education assistants are vital contributors to classroom success across the region’s schools. With increased opportunities due to a shortage of qualified individuals, those interested in learning more about career-ready education that leads to vocation as an education assistant are invited to explore more on April 19.
“It’s a gratitude-filled career that has a tremendous impact on the individual students, their families, the teachers and other support professionals,” says Lisa Gates, an instructor in the college’s Education Assistant & Community Support Worker (EACSW) Program. “It’s challenging and satisfying work that fills the heart and mind. Those who choose this career can be guaranteed that they will make a difference in the lives of others.”
Education assistants—also known as inclusion support workers—are currently in high demand across the region. To help those with a desire to enter this field learn more, the April 19 information session will feature presentations about the career that will include insight from Gates on the education pathway provided through the EACSW Program, hiring processes and benefits from a School District 20 representative, and thoughts from a Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) delegate.
The two-hour session starts at 4 p.m. with options to attend either in-person at the Castlegar Campus or online. Representatives will answer any questions and support will be provided for the Selkirk College application process.
Learning from a Lifetime of Experience
Gates has worked in the human services field since 1989. Soon after graduating from high school in the Lower Mainland, she completed a two-day community support worker workshop and immediately entered the field working with individuals with a disability. As she acquired experience and continued learning throughout, Gates compiled an impressive resume that includes working both in schools and the community.
“It’s very rewarding to be part of watching someone reach for their own success, that is the beautiful thing about the work,” she says. “The goal is to work your way out of a job, you are supporting someone else to be independent in all the best ways.”
With a desire to raise her children in a rural setting, Gates moved from the Lower Mainland to Nakusp in 1995. A talented artist, she owned a quilt a store and continued contract work in the field of community support assisting people with disabilities at multiple ages and stages.
While working and raising her children, Gates returned to school in 2009 to take the nine-month Classroom & Community Support Worker Program (now EACSW). As a member of the Selkirk College Class of 2010, the time she put into her formal education was met with enthusiasm by employers.
“I walked across the stage in the afternoon and went home to a job offer,” she says. Gates was hired as an education assistant in School District 8 where she worked with a wide spectrum of students and families who benefitted from a collaborative approach to supporting learner success.
Passionate about instructional design and curriculum development, Gates brought her knowledge and experience to the SPECTRUM Autism Resources & Training project team in 2014/15 where she joined her former Selkirk College instructor Jane Green and Michelle Pozin. In 2016, Gates was hired onto the college’s faculty at the Castlegar Campus where she has been an instructor in the EACSW Program ever since.
“Being in this place as an instructor, I am training more people to reach more people,” she says. “It has a big ripple effect being in this position and it’s a significant responsibility. We are ensuring the work we do here meets the needs of the students and they are well-equipped to go into the work.”
Career-Ready Education with Multiple Options
The EACSW Program is an essential piece of the region’s education system. Gates creates a learning environment where the life experience of students is brought into the classroom and learners contribute to the outcomes. With group work, practical research and practicums forming the foundation of learning, students are well prepared to enter the workforce where employers are eager to add them to their teams.
“I have always loved this work,” says Gates. “It’s hard and it’s good, you learn about yourself and you grow as a person. There is tremendous value being part of that larger community.”
Selkirk College’s EACSW Program offers a range of options for students that includes on-campus and blended online learning. Graduates of the nine-month certificate program also have opportunities to ladder their education towards the two-year Selkirk College Human Services Diploma and further into university degree programs in Child & Youth Care, Social Work or Community Rehabilitation.
The April 19 event information session is open to all those interested in this career-ready field of study. Find out more information at: https://selkirk.ca/programs/health-human-services/education-assistant-community-support-workera