Provided by Amy Pardi
Amy Pardi is the newest addition to Westford Academy’s student support staff. Pardi is excited to be a part of the community, despite this year’s unexpected challenges.
Q: Can you tell me about some of your hobbies outside of school?
A: My husband and I love horror movies. Especially once we’re in September, I’m like, ‘oh yeah, it’s Halloween’. I’ve been trying to watch thirty horror movies in thirty days.
Q: Moving on to more school-related questions, would you mind giving me a brief description of your job and some of the things you do here at WA?
A: I’m a special ed liaison. So, I’m usually the point person between general ed teachers and the students. [I] kind of help them through any assignments they need, and I also teach some of the concept classes for math, science, and history for a group of students.
Q: It sounds like you work pretty closely with students on a regular basis; is that something you have always wanted to do, or was it something that came about more recently?
A: I’ve always wanted to be a teacher of some sort, but the original plan was to be a high school English teacher. And then once I started doing observations in college, I realized that I wanted to specifically work with students who required assistance.
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: I went to Northeastern for my bachelor’s in English and secondary urban education minor, then I went to Simmons University for my master’s in severe disabilities for special education.
Q: Where else have you worked before coming to WA?
A: I worked at Kennedy Day School for three years as a teaching assistant, and that school was attached to the Franciscan Hospital for Children. Then for the last six years, I’ve been at Valley Collaborative in Billerica, working with the same medically fragile population, but I was the lead teacher in that classroom.
Q: How did you decide to work at WA? What was part of your decision-making process?
A: This is a very different place from my previous job. [In] my previous job, I worked with students that required a lot of extra support, and I think a big aspect of my previous job was that there was a big physical aspect to it. Being able to be here and help students in a different way was kind of the big thing for me. I’ve always heard wonderful things about WA and the Westford Public School Districts, and that really pushed me in the right direction, and everything just fell into place.
Q: Do you enjoy working at WA? You said you’re working with a different set of kids with different needs than you are used to, so have you found anything particularly challenging about that?
A: This is my first verbal set of students […] but everyone here has been so welcoming, and all of the other teachers that I work with have been so forthcoming with advice, and it’s been really just such a wonderful experience. I’ve only been here a month and I love it already.
Q: Switching gears, what is it like to not only have to transition to a new school but also have to adjust to the new guidelines regarding COVID-19?
A: It’s definitely strange. When I was first starting, I was a little concerned […] but it worked really well. I think that the current model, having to do like half-days in the morning and all that, has really helped me ease into WA life and everything. […] It’s really weird. And especially trying to get to know the students with such an extra barrier has definitely been interesting. But so far, so good.
Q: Touching on that subject of getting to know students, what are some of the things that you have been doing to try and bridge that gap, even while staying socially distant?
A: With my study skills classes, I had them fill out a Google Form […] It kind of gave me a little more information than just a face and a name for my students. Then with my science, history, and math cohort […] the first day was just us talking about favorite pizza toppings, and trying to talk about things that way. […] I’ve been really able to get to know those students much more, I guess intensely because I do see them a lot more than I do my study skills classes.
Q: Since you clearly have a good connection with kids, is there any advice you would like to give to anyone at WA? Anything you would like to say about how to get through this time in our lives?
A: Well, especially during the time of COVID, we’re all figuring it out together, teachers and students alike. So, it’s really important for students to know that it’s okay if you don’t know something because we’re all trying to figure it out. […] My biggest thing is I want students to feel comfortable asking for help, […] because if you can self-advocate for that help, then it’s only going to help open doors for you later in life.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: I just think the big thing I’ve taken away from everything at WA is just, it’s amazing to see how strong a community it is. I am so happy to be a part of it.