The paraprofessional jobs have been the most rewarding so far. They pay less (unfortunately), but they tend to give you the most interaction as you tend to spend more focused time with students. I've been in one elementary classroom a couple of times now, which was fun to return to the second time, knowing many of the kids' names when I walked in the hallway. I worked mainly with two boys whose families had come from different parts of Africa. They have some developmental issues going on and can be moody at the drop of a pin, but they're also a delight to be around. During outside recess the other day, they were mad because they couldn't play in the snow on the playground because they didn't have boots or snowpants (any kids without--and there were several who didn't come to school with them--had to just play on the sidewalk). And I have a feeling these boys might not have snowpants and boots at home--nor the available resources to get them. (If your kids outgrow their snowpants and they're still good, please see if you can pass them on to kids who can't afford them at a nearby school.)
Today I was with high schoolers and young adults (18-21) with varying developmental disabilities. I know that some of the classes are rough to be in with some, as some students have behavioral issues and outbreaks. But overall it is highly rewarding. Honestly, today was one of the happiest work settings I've been in in a long time. Most of the other staff were really courteous and friendly. And the students are fun to be around. Yes, it's work...they need to be frequently kept on task or kept from doing things they shouldn't be doing. But they are also a lot of joy. They love to affirm and be affirmed, to give high fives and laugh and joke around.
For the most part, many of these students are kids that the world would classify as "the least of these." This past Sunday our text in church was from Matthew 25, where Christ the King sits on the throne and judges the nations, separating the sheep from the goats based upon how they served "the least of these"--the hungry, naked, thirsty, imprisoned. Jesus tells the sheep that when they served, they were serving Him. The goats are told that they missed out on seeing Christ because they didn't help those who needed help.
St. Benedict tells those who lived in his monastic communities to see Christ in everyone. We are all created in God's image: the immigrant child, the mentally retarded young adult, the imprisoned drug addict, the homeless vet on the street corner.
As much as there are days when I don't want to go to a school, there are also days when being there makes it easy for me to see Jesus. For that I am thankful.