From her resource room, Leilani runs a small reading group for fifth-graders. With her help, the students may be able to catch up with their peers; if not, other intervention options exist and Leilani is there to provide support.

Leilani has more than 25 years of classroom experience, including 17 years as a paraeducator in Soldotna. As a paraeducator, Leilani supports students with special needs in the classroom or in small group settings. Leilani counts on NEA-Alaska to ensure conditions for her and her students are not only fair, but supportive.

What she loves about her work is the connections she makes with students, watching them grow and succeed — “when the students come back after they’ve left our school for years … to say hello from the high school and tell us how college is going or to introduce us to their young family,” she explained.

Leilani currently works with fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders who have been identified as needing intervention to be successful in school. The students take classes like any other student, but have additional support from Leilani in the classroom and beyond.