From a young age, Carol Mohanraj knew she was meant to be a nurturer. She was inspired by the nurses and teachers in her family, witnessing the importance of caregiving. Motivated by the compassion she saw around her, Carol followed in their footsteps and became a nurse. She, too, had a lot of love and care to give.
After a successful career as a nurse and raising four kids, Carol sought change. She found herself searching for new meaning and purpose, and joined the management committee at a community garden owned by the Chilliwack Society for Community Living (CSCL). The garden is a socially inclusive place, where people foster relationships and connect with other diverse community members to grow vegetables to donate to the food bank. Here, Carol was on the management committee and occasionally met adults with disabilities and exceptionalities. She loved working in a community setting. “I reinvented myself and found something that fit me. It’s what I enjoy doing and love.”
I’m good with people. I enjoy communicating. So, for me, it was a logical choice.
ALWAYS A NURTURER
Connecting with individuals with exceptionalities inspired Carol to become an Education Assistant (EA). The former nurse says, “I’m good with people. I enjoy communicating. So, for me, it was a logical choice.” Carol chose Stenberg College’s Education Assistant program and, not surprisingly, she is the Student of the Year finalist for her program, graduating with an incredible 95% grade point average.
Her instructor Sandi Binding, says, “Carol excelled as a role model and positive support system to her peers. She demonstrated what effective communication should look like in a learning environment. Carol will bring many positives to her role as an EA, but what will resonate most with students will be the aura of calmness that surrounds her. This is a key factor in supporting students with self-regulation.”
Indeed, Carol used her natural ability to connect calmly and efficiently during her practicum at an elementary school. “I talk to the kids, I watch what they’re good at, I notice what they’re interested in, and I find little ways to connect.” Always a nurturer, her experiences on practicum confirmed that she had made the right choice. “I worked hard, and I was driven to support the kids so they could succeed.”
I told my daughter ‘I get to go to school for the rest of my career.’ And she looked at me like, ‘You’re weird, Mom…’ That’s the best, going to school. It’s a good day.
A LIFE-LONG CAREER
In her search for meaning and purpose, Carol found it in her community. She discovered a career that allowed her to make a difference every day. Today, Carol works as an Education Assistant in the Chilliwack school district. Her presence is calming and encouraging, not only for the students she supports but for the entire class. She is happiest in the classroom. “I told my daughter ‘I get to go to school for the rest of my career.’ And she looked at me like, ‘You’re weird, Mom…’ That’s the best, going to school. It’s a good day.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION ASSISTANTS
Alison Kabush, a former student and advocate for individuals with exceptionalities, explains that for her, the challenge was communication. “I was fortunate enough to have Education Assistants who knew how important it was for me to communicate and recognize when I needed help.” Alison’s EA was her voice.
Carol recognizes the impact her role has on the lives of children with exceptionalities. She believes understanding each child’s unique challenges and needs is important in helping them achieve educational success. “Every kid is different, and it takes getting to know them.”
In the 2021-2022 school year, there were 82,786 students who required Education Assistants in BC, a 5% increase over the previous year. Education Assistants like Carol are needed now more than ever.
I always appreciate it when my students look to me for support and encouragement. That makes me feel good.
For many, passionate and genuine EAs are essential to the classroom, and mean the world to some students. For the students Carol supports, she is more than just an EA. She’s their guiding light, a source of support, an accepting and reassuring presence that subtly but powerfully permeates the classroom. “I always appreciate it when my students look to me for support and encouragement. That makes me feel good.”
Carol represents the compassion, dedication, and impact an EA can bring to the lives of kids with exceptionalities. As a mother, a nurse, a volunteer, and an Education Assistant, Carol has always lived by her words: “It’s not about me, it’s about them.”