One may not expect the game of badminton to figure prominently in special education, but for teaching assistant Joanne Truchon, it’s a key victory.
“There’s one child in particular who didn’t know how to play badminton, but now is quite good at the game,” Mrs. Truchon says. “I enjoy the one-on-one time I have with the children for physical therapy breaks. It gives me a chance to find out what types of things they like to do, and introduce them to new things.”
Mrs. Truchon is a teaching assistant in a 15:1 combined first and second-grade classroom in which students may need extra support and reassurance in tackling their daily lessons. “She is a team player who is always willing to jump in and help,” says Kensington principal Jen Hayes. “Joanne takes her job responsibilities very seriously. Her students are her first concern.”
“I try to greet each child at breakfast and engage with them in a positive way every day, to make sure they know I’m happy to see them,” says Mrs. Truchon. “We use a lot of humor in our classroom to help ease the stress and diffuse frustration or anger that the kids may have. We also try to pick up on non-verbal cues from the children when they are becoming stressed. The key is to try to get to them before they escalate. We may go for walks, do odd jobs or make deliveries, or take a physical therapy break. We’re always trying to teach them some coping skills and how to relax.”
She says the most rewarding aspect of her job is when a child finally has the coping skills to help themselves relax—and her team of educators is focused on helping every student, every day.
“We work as a team in our room, and we’re always aware of when we need to switch off and on with the children,” says Mrs. Truchon. “My success in the classroom is directly related to the people I work with. We have each other’s back all the time, you could say.”
Mrs. Truchon began working in Glens Falls City Schools in 2004, and has watched education evolve since then. “When I began, there were no SmartBoards,” she says. “Now we can do interactive things like Go Noodle and writing on the boards, which the kids love!”
She grew up in Woodstock, NY, and graduated from Kingston High School and SUNY Geneseo. Before teaching, Mrs. Truchon accepted a job at Yellowstone National Park and staying out west for three years. Judging by the smiles she gets from her students, they’re glad she’s back here.