Growing up in a traumatic environment, Sheila Mugford was stripped of her childhood. Even though life had not always been kind to her, she never failed to see the bright side. People saw Sheila as a shy perfectionist and a little girl who didn’t want attention. Looking at her today, you might be surprised to realize what she went through as a child.
Sheila’s childhood friend, who became her spouse, was her safe place with everything happening in her home. “He was always there for me, and I wasn’t used to that.” After many years together, they married when Sheila was 24 and had three children, two daughters and a son.
Everything changed for Sheila when she had her first child, Ava, at 25. Ava was born with a genetic syndrome which caused a developmental delay and complex behavioural challenges. “I had to support her while learning how to be the best advocate for her. I wanted to give her the greatest opportunities possible, and in doing so, I had to be better.”
I like being with kids and caring for them. I find joy working with children.
Sheila ran a home daycare from 2009 to 2021. She provided care and an encouraging environment for children of all ages, abilities, and exceptionalities. “I like being with kids and caring for them. I find joy working with children.”
A few years later, she gave birth to her son, Landon, who was diagnosed with ADHD. She then welcomed her third child, Anabelle, who is now six. “I have been challenged with numerous obstacles in life, but that hasn’t interfered with being a dedicated and loving mother.”
BACK TO SCHOOL
Ava’s Education Assistant (EA), who supported her special needs in school, recognized Sheila’s natural abilities and encouraged her to consider becoming an EA. She researched and found Stenberg College’s online Education Assistant program. It was the perfect choice because she could learn online while still caring for her children. “My passion has always been working with children. I knew becoming an Education Assistant is where I would excel.”
When it came to her first class, Sheila was nervous but excited. “I couldn’t wait to meet the instructors and was so happy to be in school.” In the EA program, Sheila learned that creating bonds is the most important thing. “There is no way you can build trust and mutual respect if a kid doesn’t trust you.”
Her instructors and fellow students recognized Sheila. One of her classmates, Baljinder Dhesi, says, “She works hard, inspires others, and brings the most endearing and positive aura to everything she does. Having someone like Sheila in the class inspired us to keep going and try to achieve the best.” Sheila’s passion for supporting children led her to achieve a 95% grade point average.
Department Head and Instructor Natalie Taylor-Lane, adds, “Sheila worked hard in all her courses. She was willing to support peers with a positive attitude. She always wants to do her best and strives to learn all she can.” Before even completing the two 4-week practicum placements at Deroche Elementary, she received a job offer.
I wanted to become an EA to make schools and classrooms more inclusive. I wanted every kid to feel heard and safe at school.
Sheila adds with a smile, “On my last day, one of the kids was running towards me, and I automatically opened my arms and hugged him. That was meaningful because I felt like he needed me as much as I needed him.”
At Deroche Elementary, Sheila worked in four classes with 90 students. Today, Sheila works as a full-time EA in the French immersion section of a school in the Mission school district. “You know that feeling when everything is right in the world? That’s the feeling I get at school with the kids I work with.” Sheila enjoys every minute. It is the purposeful career she had always wanted. “I wanted to become an EA to make schools and classrooms more inclusive. I wanted every kid to feel heard and safe at school.”
You know that feeling when everything is right in the world? That’s the feeling I get at school with the kids I work with.
When asked about her greatest accomplishments in life, Sheila responded with a big smile, “I have a beautiful family, a home I can say is safe, and a fulfilling career.” However, becoming an Education Assistant has inspired Sheila to take her education further. “I think I would be good at counselling children or maybe even becoming a teacher.” Her possibilities are limitless.