Instructional Assistants Convene, Learn and Enhance Learning Opportunities

Recently, Instructional Assistants from Grafton’s Richmond Region participated in a 3-day, intensive training.  Professionalism in Autism Resource and Achievement Project (also known as PARA Pro) is offered through the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center for Excellence (ACE)

In April 2012, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 325 which requires that by September 2014, paraprofessionals who are assigned to work with a teacher who has primary oversight of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) receive training in student behavioral management.

The VCU- ACE program is a university-based technical assistance, professional development, and educational research center for Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Commonwealth of Virginia. VCU-ACE is dedicated to improving services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder and to the implementation of evidence-based practices in schools and the community.

The VCU-ACE PARA Project provided professional development for the instructional assistants who serve students with autism disorder spectrum disorder (ASD), in creating effective educational teams and increase the learning of students with ASD.

The 3-day, 18 hour training provided resources within the following areas:

  • Enhancing the knowledge of  instructional assistants related to the characteristics and learning needs of students with autism spectrum disorder
  • Building skills related to implementing teacher directed instruction and behavioral support strategies
  • Assisting local educational agencies in providing teachers and administrators with guidance on the supervisory relationship with paraprofessionals


Dottie Jones, Instructional Assistant, shared, “The training was informative and very engaging, and I am very grateful for the opportunity Grafton in partnership with VCU took to expand upon our professional growth”.   Instructional Assistant, Crystal Gant stated, “The valuable resources provided by the trainers will help as I transition from Instructional Assistant to Teacher”.

Overall, the training provided an opportunity for Instructional Assistants to share their day to day experiences, build rapport and increase their learning tool-kits. The Grafton Richmond Region is so very proud of our Instructional Assistants completing this course that has not only enhanced their professional development but will undoubtedly result in enhanced learning opportunities for the students served.