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Discussing Women’s History Month with an Exceptional Paraprofessional

21 March 2024

Ms. Chaudhry sees women as towers—towers of strength as well as towers of compassion and kindness. 

Peterson SECA

Ms. Kulsoom Chaudhry has worked at Peterson Elementary School for the past eight years as a special education classroom assistant and has become an invaluable member of the Peterson community. Before this role, she worked as a parent volunteer in her own kids’ classrooms when they were young, and then transitioned to serve as a substitute teacher at schools around the District, including Peterson. 

Women’s History Month is the perfect time to highlight Ms. Chaudhry’s commitment to the District. She believes this month is about recognizing women for everything they accomplish daily, both in their careers and in supporting their families. She sees women as towers—towers of strength as well as towers of compassion and kindness—that stand tall against all of their struggles and challenges. 

Get to know her more below. 

What keeps you coming back to Peterson year after year? 

The magical feeling I get when my students learn something new. When they are able to grasp a concept, the smile on their face and their enthusiasm fills me with so much excitement. 

How has this school year been going so far? 

I think it’s been going great. In my eight years at Peterson, I’ve worked with a range of grade levels, starting in first grade, then middle school, and now I’m working with eighth-graders. I work in a resource room, mainly with students with autism. 

I have been working with the student I work most closely with for the past three years. He’s graduating this year, and thinking about that actually brings tears to my eyes. We have developed such a great connection, and I have seen great progress for him both academically and in terms of social-emotional learning. 

What strategies have you used to support this student? 

The most important thing has been connecting with him personally and knowing his background. He is from Nigeria, so I did some research before I started working with him to understand his culture more. 

I would describe our relationship as being like friends, and me being a mother is certainly a part of it as well, but, when it comes to getting things done, I am less of his friend and more of his teacher. Finding this balance has been important to making sure that he is learning and growing, and can develop into a leader in our community someday. 

What advice would you give yourself if you could return to your first year at Peterson? 

I would tell myself to do as many trainings as I can, because those trainings really polish you. My first year here, my principal sent me a lot of trainings about working with students with autism, and I think those have really helped me support our students as much as I can. 

What message would you like to share with the students you work with? 

Be yourself and live your dreams—they’re out there, and you can get them. 

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