#SuperSchoolShoutOut: Classified Staff Week!

#SuperSchoolShoutOut: Classified Staff Week!
Posted on 03/13/2024

March 11-15 is Classified School Employees Week! To celebrate, we’re showing our #CPSDPride by giving a #SuperSchoolShoutout to McKinney Vento and Foster Coordinator Melissa Ford and school bus paraeducator Mistine Turner!

 Melissa joined the student services department two years ago after working as a mental health therapist for the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Family. Over the last couple of years, the McKinney Vento department has grown under the care of Melissa and her coworker Ashton Smitherman, which has been vital for many CPSD families.

 The compliance and student services department provides students and families with additional supports and resources for unique needs. Melissa works to support the needs of students in the foster care system and students and families experiencing homelessness. “We’re there to help our vulnerable families when they need assistance through some of the hardest times of their lives,” she said.

 Melissa and Ashton have made more community partners this year and help families with more obstacles than ever before including inspecting or fixing vehicles, accessing food benefits, acquiring vital documents like a birth certificate and social security card, finding medical care, assisting with rental fees, supporting moving costs and more.

 “We also get them connected to resources in the community, help them find shelter and connect them with alternate means of transportation to make sure students can make it to school,” Melissa said. “The district can’t provide funding for these things, but we connect families with people in our community who can help.”

 Through their dedication to students, Melissa and her team helped families get back on their feet and supported students as they improved their GPA and became more engaged learners. “For most of these students, school is one of the only stable parts of their lives,” she said. “We keep them in school by first making sure their basic needs like nutrition, shelter and transportation are met.”

#SuperSchoolShoutout: Classified Employees Week, Student Services Department, Melissa Ford Smiling

Mistine is nearing her 39th year at CPSD. She joined the district after graduating high school because she wanted an opportunity to work with special needs students. During her routes, she supports up to 20 students at a time between the ages of three and 21 with a wide spectrum of needs. “In my role as a para, I get to take care of the special needs kids by keeping them safe and happy and making sure they get to school on time,” she said. 

Mistine has stayed in the district for nearly 40 years because she loves her department, the people she works closely with, and most importantly, the students. “It’s nice to be out and about in town and have kids recognize you,” she said. “I like the feeling that, even for just a minute, I made a difference in someone else’s life.” 

Mistine has worked at nearly every school, but currently supports Evergreen Elementary School, Thomas Middle School and Lakes High School. Each of these schools hosts military students who she is proud to serve. “When it’s time for those kids to move on to the next district, I actually thank the parents for allowing me to be a part of their student’s life,” she said. 

Mistine continues to grow as a para and is proud of her improving ability to understand the evolving needs of students as times change throughout the years. “Growing alongside them to understand what they need has been very important,” she said. “When I‘m flexible and adapt with students, I see happy kids and happy parents which really makes me proud.”

#SuperSchoolShoutout: Classified Staff Week - Transportation

Go Classified Staff!