Sirls serves, emerges as district’s top instructional assistant
GOLDSTON — By title, J.S. Waters School educator Robbie Sirls is an instructional assistant, a role that gives her plenty to do all by itself.
But don’t try to box her in.
“My job as an instructional assistant is not to serve [only] my students in my resource classroom but to serve all students at J.S. Waters,” Sirls said. “The most important aspect of my position as an instructional assistant is to build a relationship with my students. I feel this is important to help them meet their goals.”
Which gets at why Sirls is the 2019-20 Chatham County Schools Instructional Assistant of the Year.
“She loves being around kids and helping them grow to be productive citizens,” J.S. Waters Principal Chris Bowling said. “She covers our early drop-off duty so kids can come in the building at 7:15 [in the morning], and she is the YMCA site director, so she doesn’t leave until 6 [in the evening].”
All day every day, Sirls is about her business — educating young people.
“She is punctual and has accumulated so many sick days she could probably retire,” J.S. Waters educator Sabrina Burkhead said. “But we could never replace Robbie Sirls.”
Among the gaps Sirls fills is shepherding the school’s Junior Beta Club, a national organization wherein students pledge to uphold the keys of service, achievement, character and leadership. She's been doing that 17 years.
“I have encouraged students to love education and to remain in school until graduation by allowing them to be involved in their learning and differentiating instruction to allow for different types of learning,” Sirls said.
Her rewards come in the form of students like the one graduating this year from Chatham Central High School dropping by J.S. Waters. The young man wanted to let Sirls know how much she helped prepare him for high school.
“That really touched my heart,” Sirls said.
Published May 22, 2019