Staff Spotlight: Teaching Assistant Divya Naidu forms strong connections with students and staff

After five years of working at the Eden School, Teaching Assistant Divya Naidu can see tremendous changes in her students. From how they interact with their peers and teachers to how they use their iPad to communicate, these little moments fill Divya with pride.

Teaching Assistant Divya Naidu with one of her former students.

Teaching Assistant Divya Naidu with one of her former students.

Divya stays connected with students even after they leave her Intermediate Classroom. She spent over a year working with one student on functional skills and alternate teaching programs. She helped him learn to request desired items — an extra minute of rest time, for example — on his augmentative device. He moved on to High School 1, but whenever he sees her throughout the school, he makes eye contact and hugs her. “It feels so great to see the improvement in him, to see how far he has come,” she said.

Supporting students has become Divya’s passion, but it was not her first career. Years ago, she worked as a dentist when her son was diagnosed with special needs. She set out to learn more about individuals with developmental disabilities and got her Master’s Degree in ABA before discovering Eden Autism.

Divya knew Eden was a special place right away. She was impressed by how much data teachers collect for each student, which helps staff better understand how students are progressing and where they may need extra support. “Each student is different, and you have to learn and respect their needs,” she said.

In addition to supporting students, collaborating with her colleagues is another highlight for Divya. She said all of the teaching assistants work closely with lead and head teachers to keep each other informed about students’ behavior and progress. “We all talk to each other and collaborate to help the students,” she said. No matter what someone’s title is, Divya said they are always there to help with behaviors and celebrate a student’s victory. “Culture-wise, everyone is treated equally.”

“Divya is an amazing teaching assistant and definitely an asset to the Eden School,” said Dr. Cindy Bott-Tomarchio, Lead Teacher of the Intermediate Classroom. “She is very dedicated to her students — past and present — and she is equally supportive to her coworkers. We are very fortunate to have her on our team!”

Whether she is working with her peers or helping students learn and master new life skills, you can find Divya in the hallways of Eden School with a smile on her face. “I come to work with a happy face, and I leave with a happy face,” she said.