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Help Wanted: San Diego Unified looking for special needs support

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M.G. Perez
Jenny Kingston and her eldest son Mark with the family's dogs, San Diego, CA Nov. 8, 2021

Jenny Kingston is a dedicated mother who loves her fur babies and the four children she and her husband Bryan raised. Each Kingston kid adopted a dog for emotional support. The pets have been an important part of their education as students with special needs.

Kingston is also a substitute paraeducator with San Diego Unified School District. She taught her own children and got them through COVID-19 distance learning and is now ready to apply for a permanent position to help others.

“I tend to want to get to a group of kids for a lengthy period of time, where I can see the growth, see where they struggle and need more help,” Kingston said.

San Diego Unified has continued to have a shortage of applicants for teaching positions and other support jobs. The latest recruitment drive is for applicants qualified to teach and support children with special needs. The district is offering a $4,000 signing bonus for credentialed special education teachers who qualify.

“We want our children to have the best,” said Kimberly Moore, the district's diversity and inclusion officer. “We are focused on making sure they have the best and we want people to know how serious we are about that.”

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Jenny Kingston
The Kingston family (clockwise) Bryan, Jenny, Michael, Melody, Mark, and Miles, in an undated photo.

The signing bonus does not apply to non-credentialed applicants.

Paraeducators support the instructor in the daily classroom activities. Positions assigned to the Special Education program work with students with all types of special needs including physical and mental challenges.

It’s something Kingston is familiar with, having supported her children who have had an Individualized Education Program, more commonly known as an IEP. The IEP is a legal document that specifies services students must receive in their special education.

Help Wanted: San Diego Unified looking for special needs support

Kingston continues to be an advocate for those she loves and the students she wants to help the district support. She advised anyone interested in applying for the job to make sure they are clear on the responsibilities.

“You can learn the tools, you can learn the techniques to assist the child, but the core of it is that you have to feel a passion," she said. "You have to want to help kids learn."

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