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Yoko Fines, Paraeducator, Cedar Lane School

Posted: June 7th, 2017

Yoko Fines embraces working at Cedar Lane School as a paraeducator: “The students are capable of doing a lot of things we didn’t know they could. I instruct them, motivate them and encourage them to find their success.” Fines’ dedication to her students comes from a place of warmth. Her compassion comes in part from years as the primary caregiver for her family and her childhood growing up with a brother with Down syndrome.

Fines works with students at all levels of Cedar Lane School. Her schedule is busy helping students one-on-one with bus arrival, grooming, lunch, recess, and Adapted Physical Education and Horticulture classes. She also assists in teaching Instruct Science, a science introduction class for elementary/middle school students. Fines modifies the science lesson plans, so her five students can make connections through music and other interactive activities.

Fines believes in “respect, communication and motivation” when it comes to connecting with her students. She is most inspired when something clicks in her students, whether that means eyes light up, work gets completed or physical movements become more controlled. She said, “If something doesn’t work, maybe I just prepare better next time, then I believe they will respond.”

Born in Japan, Fines started her career as a hospital medical tech. She stayed at home with her children as her family moved from France to the United States for her husband’s work. The family settled in Howard County for the school system. Fines first saw Academic Life Skills (ALS) in action when volunteering at her children’s school and immediately realized she wanted to be a part of the special education program. She became an ALS paraeducator at Harper’s Choice Middle School before she switched to Cedar Lane.

Cedar Lane School Principal Paul Owens sums up his appreciation with, “Yoko Fines is a highly engaged staff member who inspires students to do their best.”