Heard About the IAs in Our school?

(Photo by Catherine Le and Phiney Wong)

(Photo by Catherine Le and Phiney Wong)

Catherine Le and Phiney Wong

Did you ever wonder who helps those children who have disabilities or those who help the office?  Maybe you heard about the students, but what about the others?  Here in FCHS, there are a lot of people that work as class assistants.  They do so much to help the students out and encourage them to do well in their studies.  There are various types of assistants that help the school.

We asked some of the instructional assistants for their opinions about helping teachers.  We started by talking to Ms. Marjorie Almanza, who started working here this year as the Assistant Administrator of Special Education.  She does the appointments for Ms. Fox, distributes mail and sends it to the parents and the school website calendar.  “I like this job because I have an opportunity to talk to other people, and since I speak Spanish I can be an interpreter,” she says, adding, “I also like this job because I have a chance to go home early.”

Next one is Ms. Candy Witmer, who has worked here for 13 years.  She does classroom special education, helps mentor for SOL tests and is called the “Cellphone Queen” for confiscating a record-breaking 13 phones during SOL tests. She’s also Ms. Almanza assistant in the special education office.  She graduated in 1982 from Falls Church, and later married a man who was a fellow FCHS grad.

Ms. Sandra Coombs has been here for three years, but her first year in this school was a substitute teacher. She has been working around Fairfax County for about 18 years. She told us that she likes being here in FCHS because we have a special program for the handicapped kids compared to other schools.  Ms. Coombs said, “I love working in the POD.   The kids are awesome they make you happy when you’re sad.”

Another IA is Ms. Catherine Shedberg who is also in her third year of working here at Falls Church. She spends time in the POD, such as with supervising the people who help the kids. She’s also mentor-teacher, specifically in Mathematics.

(Photo by Catherine Le and Phiney Wong)
(Photo by Catherine Le and Phiney Wong)

Ms. Jain Rekha is in her fourth year here at Falls Church.  She goes with the students, teaches geometry, biology and helps them read.

Some of the instructional assistants are among the longest-serving staff members here at Falls Church High School.  Some have been here since before many of us were born!  Mr. Daniel Evans started working at FCHS in 1998.  He also helps in auto tech and told us that there’s only a small number of girls who go there. He likes assisting because people are warm and it’s an academic environment.

Ms. Wanda Williams has been here for 23 years in row. She told us she likes the school spirit that the students are showing right now than the past few years. She mentioned that POD students are a part of the program since they were freshmen, and many of them remain in the program until they graduate at the age of 22.  She graduated from Virginia Union University in Richmond, where she majored in early childhood education.  She loves her job and encourages others to consider it as career for themselves: “You’ll love working with kids.”

Ms. Tammy Akhtar has been working here for 28 years.  She used to work as a special education bus driver, but currently helps in the POD because she likes to interact with the students.  It makes her happy every single day.  Every second for her in POD is very precious.

Each of these IAs have done so much to help the students and the school. Although many students may not notice them, they still do their very best to accomplish everything for the students.  We thank them for all the hard work they do.