NEWMAN - Long-time Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District instructional aide Irmie Azevedo recently retired after 36 years in the classroom.
Azevedo joined the district in September 1984 as an aide at Bonita Elementary.
After a few years at the Crows Landing campus, she moved over to Yolo Middle School and worked there for more than 30 years.
“It was perfect,” she said of going to work for the school. “The kids were in school, and I could be home when they were home.”
At Bonita, Azevedo recalled, she would typically be in the same classroom.
After moving over to the middle school, she would move from one classroom to another.
“As an aide, you adjust to the teacher’s style. It is different in every classroom,” Azevedo explained. “It was fun, and it made the day interesting.”
She may have been assigned to a classroom based on how many students in a class had an individualized educational program, Azevedo noted, but “if I was in there, I was in there for everybody. I was there for any kid who needed help.”
Instructional aides, she said, play a crucial role not only in academics but in providing emotional support.
“These kids come to school with so much now, the biggest thing is being there for them emotionally,” Azevedo explained. “I have worked with kids who people think are troubled, but who are just so intelligent. Sometimes you have to go beyond the grades. There is so much more to it.”
Azevedo said she did not hesitate to challenge students, encouraging them to push themselves.
“I knew that they could meet the challenge, and they felt better when they did meet the challenge,” she commented. “Struggle is okay sometimes. You tend to do what you do best, and avoid the things that are difficult. The challenges are what prepare us for later in life.”
Azevedo was often to help students with math - a subject she struggled with as a student.
That experience and perspective allowed her to better coach her own students.
Azevedo also worked in the summer school program at times, and did after-school math tutoring.
In more recent years, she often filled in as a one-to-one aide serving students with special needs.
Azevedo said she enjoyed her years in the classroom and working for the district.
“I’m going to miss it. With the pandemic, it was a different way to say good-bye. I thought about trying to push through another year, but I thought it was time (to retire),” she reflected. “I loved it. It wasn’t work.”