Web Exclusive: Retired Arkansas woman finds calling as Special Education Teacher

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(KARK) – A paraprofessional turned teacher. The road getting there was unexpected, but one Mrs. Ola Perry soon realized was her calling.

“We teach them all the time, but there are so many other times we forget that they have things to offer too,” says Ola Perry, Special Education Teacher.

Mrs. Perry is the newest Special Education Teacher at Don Roberts Elementary School in Little Rock. She’s not new around campus. Mrs. Perry has actually spent the last several years as a paraprofessional in this classroom.

“It became the biggest thing in my life,” she explains.

Mrs. Perry had just retired, spending 25 years in human resources. However, a friend needed some help in the classroom. Having two grandchildren with special needs, Mrs. Perry realized this is where she wanted to be.

“That’s the most important thing. Getting into the mind of this child because you don’t know how they left home. You don’t know what kind of family environment they came from,” says Mrs. Perry.

Educators saw a spark in this paraprofessional and encouraged her to be a teacher. Mrs. Perry went back to school to work toward a Masters of Arts in Teaching Special Education. She passed the required tests and is here, not as a sub, but a full-time teacher.

“I said ‘look how old I am, what am I doing starting all over again? What is this about, I’ve already had my time.’ And he said you know what he said your career is what you paid for, but your calling is what you’re created for.”

At 60-years-old, Mrs. Perry is proud to say she has found her calling. Right now, she has six classes left to complete her Master’s Degree and has a 4.0 grade point average.

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