TRUMBULL, Conn. – Cooperative Educational Services is proud to announce its 2021 Paraeducator of the Year is Michael Cueto, who works in the Therapeutic Day Program (TDP) in the C.E.S. Special Education division.
Michael started as an instructional aide at TDP in 2014 and was named an educational instructor the following year. He currently works in TDP’s middle school but has also taught at the elementary and high school levels.
He has a BA in English from Southern Connecticut State University, where he is currently working toward a Masters in Teaching for Special Education, which will certify him to teach in Connecticut.
Michael says he teaches because every student is entitled to progress and he is committed to being part of that process.
“Every student deserves the opportunity to succeed, and to grow as a person, and what that looks like for each student is going to be different,” Michael said. “Figuring out the puzzle, asking myself, ‘How can I make this work for them?’ and then working with team members to create a solution that benefits that student is the most rewarding experience, and is one that we as paraeducators at C.E.S. are an integral part of.”
One of Michael’s passions at TDP is organizing the annual talent show, when he plays guitar in a band with other staff and students.
“We have many students who are natural performers and who are very gifted, but we also have students who are not natural performers, or who think that they don't have a talent worth showing off,” said Michael, who works along with other musically inclined staffers to help all of the students discover their skills and prepare for a memorable performance.
“Teaching is not a passive activity,” Michael said. “It requires true dedication, and I am so happy to be surrounded by staff that are truly dedicated to their work, and to their students. All of my fellow paraeducators work very hard on a daily basis, and it is great that there is an opportunity like this for our work and dedication to be recognized.”
TDP Administrator Daniel Katz said Michael has made an “indelible impact on staff and students.”
“Mike is an empathetic, assiduous, and conscientious young man," Daniel said. "I am thoroughly impressed by his leadership potential, communication and problem-solving skills.”
Michael is now eligible for the Connecticut Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year Award, which will be announced Nov. 10 in Hartford. To see past winners of the C.E.S. award, visit www.ces.k12.ct.us/about/paraeducator-of-the-year.
The Leadership Institute at CES is offering a series of short, virtual sessions for school and district administrators on topics that may not have been covered in leadership training. Click here to learn more about the JUST IN TIME series for Leadership Institute members.