To say Dawn Winters has a passion for kids may be an understatement.
The KidsCare assistant at Eastwood Elementary School in Elkhart has been on the job for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County for nearly seven years. She has worked in that same building for the Elkhart Schools for the past 21 years as a special education paraprofessional.
“I’ve always loved kids. Kids and animals have been my lot in life. I started working when my youngest was in kindergarten,” she said.
Being involved in both programs makes for a long day, but Winters says she loves being the familiar face for the kids throughout their day.
“It makes it easier, especially with the new kids, because they know me. They’re less afraid to come to KidsCare,” she said.
That connection with the school also helps her know what issues the kids may have encountered throughout their school day.
“I know the kids from school so it’s easy. It just flows together. The challenging kids are more special to me. They need the most attention. There’s a reason they are more challenging.”
In addition to being a familiar face, Winters says the kids also appreciate the structure that KidsCare provides before and after school. She and her fellow team members work hard to plan activities each day of the week.
“We have a schedule every day. So they come knowing what is expected. It helps them to have a routine. Kids need consistency. They need things that never change,” she said.
Winters says parents like the consistency as well. Because she’s worked in the building for so long, she’s able to develop connections with the parents.
“The parents know we will tell them if anything is changing with their kids. We have great communication with our parents.”