Career+close.+Stahl+smiles+for+a+photo+in+the+teachers+lounge.+She+has+worked+with+many+different+kids+throughout+her+career+as+an+SEA.

Melissa Krainer

Career close. Stahl smiles for a photo in the teacher’s lounge. She has worked with many different kids throughout her career as an SEA.

Diane Stahl

An SEA talks past, present and future

Eight years ago, Diane Stahl’s journey began as a special education aide (SEA). Now, eight years later, her journey is taking a different direction: retirement.

How it all began

Stahl’s SEA journey began in 2014. She was looking for a change in employment. Before, Stahl had run her own healthcare cleaning business for a few years. Now she was seeking something different.

Her daughter was a special education teacher at the time. Once the opportunity for an SEA position came up, Stahl applied. After finger-prints were taken, child background checks were completed, police records were combed and training was done, she was accepted and embarked to the junior high.

The career

Stahl reflected on the working environment she had enjoyed throughout her career with the students and staff.

“I really enjoyed working here. I’ve worked eight years here in the same school, you know, the junior high. The teachers and staff are just wonderful to work with. And I love the kids. I originally wanted elementary, but then she put me in here with a seventh grader and I’ve been here ever since. And it’s great. Everybody’s just so nice,” she said.

Stahl got to interact with many different students over the eight years of working. She considers herself lucky to have interacted with the students she had, through the bitter and the sweet.

[For] a lot of the kids their family life, at-home life is awful…You’re the one that they come in to see, that they get the hugs from and then the care that they wouldn’t get at home. They depend on you a lot for a lot of things…you’d be surprised. Just somebody really to pay attention to them…And sometimes you’re the only smile they’ll see.”

— Diane Stahl

“I had two students for three years each [and a few this year] … So I’ve been really lucky with the kids that I had; and plus, [it’s] not only just one student. I’m in the room with you know the other students too and I help them out… So it’s nice, I really enjoy my job. But it’s time to leave,” Stahl said.

She also shared some things she learned through her career along with what it means to be an SEA.

“[For] a lot of the kids their family life, at-home life is awful…You’re the one that they come in to see, that they get the hugs from and then the care that they wouldn’t get at home. They depend on you a lot for a lot of things…you’d be surprised. Just somebody really to pay attention to them…And sometimes you’re the only smile they’ll see,” Stahl said.

Looking ahead

June 3 is Stahl’s last day as a special education aide. She explained her plans for the future.

“My husband and I are traveling. We just bought a new RV. We have a Harley-Davidson. Don’t laugh, I’m a motorcycle woman. And we’re going… We’re going to Myrtle Beach first and then down to Georgia to see my son. And in August we’re going to Sturgis, S.D.,” she said.

Stahl’s career as an SEA may be coming to a close but her journey has only just begun.

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