When Beth Sexton moved her family to Portage almost nine years ago, life was in flux. As a single mother of two, though, one thing was certain: she was going to do everything she could to help support her children.
She enrolled them at Jones Elementary and kept her hand raised.
Even as Sexton was making herself available to help in the classroom, she needed a job to provide for her family. Sexton has spent the past eight years assisting developmentally disabled persons in the area. A friend suggested she look into home healthcare.
“I help them go out into the community and learn new skills,” Sexton said. “It’s very rewarding.”
Developing new skills is valuable at any age, and when the kindergarten teacher who had taught both Sexton’s children needed a new classroom assistant, she approached Sexton with a new opportunity.
“I’ve always liked working with kids,” Sexton said. “I have a lot of patience, so it comes naturally to me.”
As any parent who works in schools knows, a top benefit of the job is keeping the same hours as your kids. Sexton leapt at the opportunity and has enjoyed all the benefits of working with kindergarteners and the adults who teach them for four years.
From helping teach lessons and working one-on-one with students who need extra help, to attending specials like music art and gym, Sexton spends the entire school day with her students. Helping with lunch and recess rounds out the day.
Sexton’s work as an instructional assistant means keeping school hours, but it also comes with the envied “summer break.”
Although Sexton’s family is rarely able to take vacations, an uncle recently helped reunite the whole family at Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, and SeaWorld.
“My cousin and I hadn’t seen each other in 16 years,” Sexton said, “so it was really great for us to be able to meet each other’s children and have them play with each other for the first time at the Happiest Place on Earth.”
As Sexton and her kids prepare to head back to school soon, she has one more goal for the next year: complete the three credits she has left on her business degree.
“I really love my job at school,” Sexton assured, “but I would love to at least finish this degree. I don’t plan to use it for business, but maybe it will help me find more I can do within the school.”
Sexton leads by example every day, for her own children and for her students at Jones Elementary. As she pursues her professional next steps, she looks forward to bringing all she has to the classroom she loves.