Pin It
Favorite

CASE STUDY: Francesca DePaolo 

Francesca DePaolo - Age: 47 - Occupation: Teacher's Aide at an Alternative School

Students with behavioral problems who get kicked out of school are sometimes assigned to a classroom with Francesca DePaolo. As an instructional assistant at Bancroft Alternative School, DePaolo works with a team that includes case managers and therapists. Together, they help some of the most challenging children in Spokane — 9- to 14-year-olds with mental health problems as well as kids who have been neglected and abused. Many of these children also live in poverty.

On most days, it’s not unusual for a child to get frustrated and yell out profanities in the middle of class, according to DePaolo.

Sometimes, someone might break a window, throw a desk across the room or threaten to hurt people. When things get really bad, DePaolo will take an out-of-control student into a padded safety room or call a resource team to help restrain the child.

“It’s an emotionally draining job,” says DePaolo, who teaches Spanish to the kids and eats breakfast with them every school day. “We know that these students have nowhere else to go so we extend ourselves to help fill the void in their lives.”

After a difficult day, DePaolo recharges by gardening and pulling dandelions and other weeds in her yard. It’s a chance for her to spend time outdoors, to dig in the dirt and to talk to her neighbors. “I find it very therapeutic,” she says. “Weeding has taught me an important lesson in life — that you can’t give up.”

Her colleagues’ support and encouragement also keep her from suffering burnout, says DePaolo, who has worked at the school for the last five years. Every day after school, she and other staff members at Bancroft take the time to debrief and support each other.

“I don’t feel like I’m ever alone,” she says. “For me, this work is fulfilling because we show children who have been traumatized that there is hope.”

  • Pin It

Latest in News In Health

  • Working Well
  • Working Well

    Employee wellness programs are on the rise, and Spokane is no exception. But can employers actually improve the health of their workers?
    • Feb 6, 2015
  • Prescription for Nurse Practitioners
  • Prescription for Nurse Practitioners

    With more ARNPs, patients may be left wondering who should provide their care
    • Feb 6, 2015
  • Keeping Them Close
  • Keeping Them Close

    Kootenai Health's new partnership with Mayo Clinic enables some patients to get specialized care, right at home
    • Feb 6, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
The Artist’s Palette: Through the Lens of Dean Davis

The Artist’s Palette: Through the Lens of Dean Davis @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through June 28

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Virginia de Leon

  • Workplace Tension

    Can your job kill you? Recent studies have shown there’s a possible connection between on-the-job stress and heart disease.
    • Jul 1, 2008
  • Quietly Taking a Toll

    Why doing more can lead to less: How stress undermines health and happiness
    • Jul 1, 2008
  • CASE STUDY: Anne Kirkpatrick

    Anne Kirkpatrick - Age: 48 - Occupation: Chief, Spokane Police Department
    • Jul 1, 2008
  • More »

Most Commented On

Top Tags in
InHealth

alt med


BOOMERS


COOKING


PARENTING


PEOPLE


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation