by Terry Rogers
Lisa McQueen believes she is at Lulu M. Ross Elementary School for all students, not just those who have presented behavior problems. She has been at Ross for 12 years, starting as a substitute and moving into a position as a 1-on-1 paraprofessional before accepting the job as Ross’ Behavior Specialist.
“I am here for all kids, teachers, parents, anyone who needs anything,” McQueen said. “I am called on when a child is not having a good day and either remove the child from the classroom or work with them so they can remain in class. If they need a long timeout, I bring them to my office where they can stay all day if it relieves the situation. My main goal is to deescalate a situation and get the child back to class where they can learn.”
McQueen came to Delaware from North Carolina to be with her now husband. She decided to relocate because her husband was closer to retirement and has been in the state for four years. McQueen has one child of her own and her husband had four children when they married.
“The most challenging part of my job is not being able to reach a child,” McQueen said. “There is good in everyone but various backgrounds and family situations can lead to a host of issues in children. I believe that if you preach something long enough, something will stick. Every child I come in contact with, I show love. Sometimes, they just need a hug or they may just need someone who will listen to them. My first question when dealing with a child who is having a bad day is ‘what can I do to help?’ I then ask how they think we can make the situation better. I know that if I make a difference in one child, I have done something right.”
McQueen believes that her goal is to prepare students at Ross for Milford Central Academy but she says it is often a challenge for her to let them go. She explained that when fifth graders leave Ross to head to MCA, there are often tears as she sees them as one of her own kids.
“I try to instill in them the traits I learned growing up,” McQueen said. “I expect “yes ma’am, no ma’am, please and thank you’ from every child I deal with. I try to instill in them that their character will take them further than anything else in the world, not money, not fame, but character. I teach them that words hurt and that they need to choose them wisely. Every student I deal with is given a chance with me.”
The most rewarding part for McQueen is seeing change in a student and knowing that she made a difference.
“To see kids doing the right things and making the right choices is so rewarding to me,” McQueen said. “I often see kids I have worked with correcting other kids who are misbehaving and that really makes me feel I am doing the right things. I know a lot of them think of me as the lady who handles detention and that I am the “mean one,” but I am only trying to help them become what they can become. I love to go into classrooms and sub because I have fun with them. I absolutely love what I do.”
In order to succeed as a Behavior Specialist, McQueen explained that it is important to have a peaceful mind, be able to listen and to problem solve. It requires a good deal of love for children as well.
“I am tough, but I let them know I love them,” McQueen said. “I am here for them. Sometimes, the issue is not the children but the parents who are not providing the guidance their children need to do the right thing. Some of these children don’t even know where they will sleep at night or where their next meal will come from and that makes it harder to address their behavior issues. I am here to keep this school safe and I don’t do this for the money. My goal is to see each child go from one grade level to the next successfully. I let them know they are somebody and that they can do it if they keep their mind clear.”