Position: Seventh Grade Supportive Instructive Paraeducator
School: Freedom Middle School
School District:Cherokee County School District
City, State: Canton, Georgia
About the Nominee: Becky Buice is truly a LifeChanger! She began her career as a hair dresser and volunteered in her niece’s elementary school. There, she fell in love with special needs children, especially one young lady who was blind and deaf, but who was always had a smile and a wave for others. Ms. Buice was sure that the young lady was listening to the songs of angels that no one else could hear. The principal of the school noticed that she could see in the children what most others would never even imagine, so she asked her to give up her job and become a paraeducator. That was 20 years ago, and Ms. Buice continues to see the joy and the beauty in all children.
Prior to arriving at Freedom Middle School, Ms. Buice worked at Sixes Elementary School. One of her duties was to supervise students in bus duty as they arrived at school. These arrivals were often challenging for many children, not just the students with special needs. She would hug those who were scared, wipe the eyes of those who were crying and reassure those who needed an extra boost to begin their days. She had no idea about the impact she was making on the lives of those students by just doing what she does best on a daily basis – giving comfort and love.
During her years at Sixes Elementary School, Ms. Buice worked in a variety of positions, including in special needs classrooms, regular education classrooms and computer labs. During this time, she performed the Heimlich maneuver twice to save students who were choking in the lunchroom. She also helped a young man as he acclimated to hearing his first sounds after receiving a cochlear implant, and she supported students through the Special Olympics. Additionally, she served on the hospitality committee to bring cheer to other teachers, often buying gifts at her own expense, and she touched countless lives with her smile and her loving heart.
Ms. Buice is now at Freedom Middle School, where many of her former elementary students attend school. The students, many who haven't seen her since kindergarten, are so happy to see someone they know. She worked in self-contained classrooms at Freedom for three years, and for the past two years, she has been a Supportive Instructional Paraeducator in seventh grade classrooms. In her role, she makes sure that the needs of the students are being met in the regular classroom. She gives up her daily lunch period to have a working lunch for students who need extra help and support. She also volunteered to be a part of the school’s Microsoft endorsement classes.
Ms. Buice is very involved in the school and the community. She leads her school's Relay for Life team and serves on the Relay for Life County Steering Committee. She is an emeritus member of the Service League of Cherokee County, and she also helps with various local charities.
Ms. Buice's influence is best summed up in a letter she received last year from a former elementary student who is now attending the middle school: “My first impression of you was when I was walking into Sixes crying my heart out, and you picked me up and comforted me. You make me excited to come to school. When I see you in the hallways, it’s like everything’s OK when you’re around. I am glad that you are here.” This is only one of many examples that demonstrates how Ms. Buice is the safe haven for many students who need her support to get through the day, even if it is just her presence in the hallway.
Her character is above reproach, and her ability to find the right words to help students through their challenges is truly awe-inspiring. She says that she doesn’t have a job – she has a joy. She certainly brings joy to those around her, and she is changing lives, one student at a time.