Wyoming Education Association

Fall 2021

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/1419437

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It's not something you see in every school district: At first glance, to the untrained eye, you could be standing in an auto-shop or maybe even a chemistry classroom. But look just a little closer, and you start to recognize the neatly stacked boxes, colorful solutions, and bulky machinery as the telltale signs of a professional print shop. As the Manager and Operator of the district's only print shop, WEA member Cheryl Fels has been serving students and educators in Park County School District #1 as an Education Support Professional for more than 23 years. "I take pride in my work, and knowing that what I do contributes to the students' education makes it a heartfelt and rewarding career," Fels told WEA News. Unfortunately, citing cost-saving measures, the district is closing its print shop in December of 2022. "It's unfortunate because so many of the teachers have come to rely on the shop and on me," said Fels. "It's also such a positive experience for the students who work here." Cheryl has loved her career as an ESP, both because of her colleagues and students. "I enjoy the students a lot," she said. "They make my day worth it." Pulling out a cherished thank-you note sent to her from a student who worked in her print shop, she reads, "I want to thank you for the knowledge and wisdom you've imparted upon me. It has been a great help and support throughout my career. I believe my success is at least in part due to your sincere support and mentorship … You have shown me the value of honesty, sincerity, and trust in business." Fels prepares everything from yearbooks to worksheets, applications, brochures, and more. She also serves a unique role in Express Employment's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation program, guiding, mentoring, and supervising special education high school students working in the print shop a few hours per day during the school week—and often more in the summer. Cheryl teaches these students about laminating, packaging, binding, and other hard skills they can implement in the print shop. By working in the print shop, students also learn valuable life and career skills. "Students working with me learn basic work skills like punctuality, good communication, responsibility, taking pride in their work, and seeing a project through to completion," Fels said. "The students get to see where their educational materials come from and how they are produced, which gives them a better appreciation for learning. It also gives them pride in their accomplishments by helping to produce educational materials for the elementary students." Though her career has been one of meaning and fulfillment, Cheryl sees room for improvement for Wyoming ESPs. "ESP people, we want recognition and to not be forgotten," she shared. "There's so much focus on academics. But what's behind those academics is important too and should be recognized and respected." for students for students

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