Editor's Note: Gov. Mark Dayton declared Jan. 16-20 as Paraprofessional Recognition Week. To recognize some of the professionals working within the Richfield school community, this week Richfield Patch is featuring a series of articles on these people—who were all suggested by school administrators, teachers, staff members and parents.
After teaching kindergarten in Mexico for 17 years, Petra Sinclair moved to the United States in 2001 and brought with her an extremely good work ethic.
“In all my 17 years teaching in Mexico, I never had one sick day,” Sinclair told Richfield Patch.
And that tradition has continued in her three years as an instructional and managerial paraprofessional at (RDLS).
“I’ve never been absent,” she said. “Everyday I am happy to come to this school and do my job.”
“You can always rely on Sra. Sinclair to be here,” RDLS added.
When Sinclair arrived in the U.S. she set up house in Burnsville for five years before making the move to Richfield. When her son, Paul Jose, began kindergarten at RDLS, she began volunteering at the school. When he entered first-grade she was hired on as a paraprofessional.
“I love everything about the job,” Sinclair said. “But my favorite is when I’m with the students in smaller groups or one on one.”
Sinclair is the first in her family to start a career in education, but she said it was a dream of her mother’s when she was a girl. However, her mother was never able to do it.
“In those days children could only go to school until third-grade,” Shahsavand translated for Sinclair. “If you wanted to go to more school you would have to move away to a different city.”
When Sinclair told her mother she would become a teacher, she said, “Ya te apoyo. … I support you.”
Sinclair works mostly with children who are struggling with reading, but as part of her managerial role, she also assists teachers with everything from photocopying to lunch and recess duties.
Working with children can be demanding and not without its tough days, but Sinclair said she was taught how to deal with it from a young age.
“I was taught to always count from one to 10 if I thought I was going to lose it and I really practice that,” she said. "But, I'm also calm by nature."
“I keep teasing her that I want to see her get angry someday,” Shahsavand interjected. “She always has a smile on her face. … Even in negative moments, Sra. Sinclair can find something positive.”