Kraus loves associate job for special education students

Preschool Special Education Program Associate Shelly Kraus sits with the students in Mrs. Andrews’ class as they sing to start their day. Kraus provides one-on-one assistance to a student in the class, both inside and out of the classroom. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Panther Professionals
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Panther Professionals is a weekly series highlighting educators, administrators, staff and aides who are dedicated to the future of the Monticello Community School District.

     “Each associate is different because each child is different.”

     Shelly Kraus has been working for the MCSD since 2011, and has been assigned to several different roles in that time. She was first hired as a media associate and library aid. She worked at Carpenter Elementary School in the school library, and assisted at-risk students with their reading assignments.

     “That lasted one year,” recalled Kraus, who grew up attending Monticello schools herself.

     Then she came to Shannon Elementary School to work with students on a more one-on-one basis.

     Now as a special education program associate, Kraus works in Kate Andrews’ preschool class, assisting just one student in need.

     “I go where the need is,” she explained, meaning if a second-grade student required some assistance, Kraus would be in one of those classrooms. “I provide support for those students with special needs.” Kraus is seen working with those students in and out of the classroom whether it be the lunchroom or out on the playground.

     “I also assist the teacher with support,” she added. “We’re all one team.”

     In addition, Kraus works in the office at Shannon, giving School Secretary Sandy Hinrichs a break when needed.

     Kraus praised Elementary School Principal Denny Folken with placing her where the need is the greatest.

     “Mr. Folken is very good to me,” Kraus said. “He places me where I’m best needed.”

     Kraus admitted she never thought she would be working in the education world. She worked for Advancement Services of Jones County, and when she had kids of her own, Kraus said she wanted something that would allow her to spend some time with her young kids at the time.

     “The job and school hours just appealed to me,” she said.

     Kraus said she honestly thought she would be working in a secretarial field somewhere.

     “I was looking for something different, and I was lucky to get my foot in the door,” she added.”

     Since being named a special education program associate, Kraus said the district has been great at providing the needed training, especially for a job like hers. The CPI training has taught her how to step in and de-escalate a situation involving a disruptive student and provide that student with the needed support in that moment. Teach Training involves Kraus working with a special needs student in visually mapping out their daily schedule and helping them navigate through their day.

     “These district trainings help everyone benefit,” said Kraus. “We want the children to get the best out of their day and learn to become independent without us.”

     She said working with the younger elementary kids is such a joy.

     “I love it here!” said Kraus. “I love watching the little kids as they progress, and I just love the environment here.”

     In addition to her associate and office duties, Kraus also assists at school registration every August.

     “I also enjoy that,” she said.

     Above all, Kraus said the Monticello community is blessed to have such a great preschool program.

     “The teachers are amazing,” she said of Andrews and Stephanie Zalaznik. “We have some really great teachers here, and everyone is such an asset.”

     Kraus said there are so many positive things going on behind the scenes as well.

     She said she hears from other schools, praising Monticello’s special education program at all levels.

     “We have an amazing program across the board,” Kraus said. “We have amazing special education teachers, and they help fill a need in the community.

     “I am proud to call myself an associate of Monticello Schools.”

     Kraus and her husband, Brian, have two sons: Mason who’s a junior in high school, and Mitchell who’s a freshman. The family enjoys spending time together when they can. Brian is the owner of Kraus Plumbing & Heating, LLC.

     In the summer when Kraus isn’t teaching, she gives her time to Above & Beyond Hospice providing hospice care to patients.


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