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Advantage Para Named to Louisiana State Teacher Advisory Council

Amber Thomas was always puzzled by her grandmother’s work in the field of education. It wasn’t until she started as an instructional para at Advantage Charter Academy last school year that she figured out the secret.
 
“My grandmother was a teacher and an administrator who spent 40-plus years in education,” Thomas said. “I never understood why she loved it until I got in education and experienced it for myself.
 
“One thing I've noticed and I kind of keep reminding myself is that when you are there for your students, they kind of become your own. So, I may be the bringer of candy or the person that may give the best advice, but I'm happy that my students trust me enough to tell me things. Honestly, I never thought that would happen in my life.”
 
It’s fitting then, that Thomas was named to Louisiana’s 2022-23 State Teacher Advisory Council, which will tackle the state’s new literacy standards this year.
 
“Every member is from a different part of the state,” Thomas said. “You have some districts who are performing very high who have the scores to show that they are improving with their students. Then you have some other school districts that are looking to get more help, so what can they do differently?
 
“We can all find different ways to collaborate and find the best way to bring it forth for the statewide body.”
 
The connection Thomas has with students is evident, Principal Stephanie Jones said.
 
“She is doing a wonderful job,” Jones said. “We knew with the vast amount of knowledge she has; she'll be great with our 3-5 scholars. Amber has a great connection with all students and staff members in the building.”
 
Originally interested in government and political science, Thomas felt she could do more for her community working with students. She also leads the school’s Girls on the Run program.
 
“I started to see that it's not what we can say at a meeting or the state capital, but actually, having an individual relationship with your students,” Thomas said, “seeing their strengths and weaknesses and then growing from there.”
 
Thomas has her first council meeting this week and will continue with quarterly meetings throughout the year. She’s convinced it will only enhance her desire to help her students at Advantage.
 
“I’ve loved it ever since I first started, it’s a family-oriented place,” she said. “I've felt very at home and welcomed by my co-workers, my superiors and the students.”

About Advantage Charter Academy
Advantage Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Baker, Louisiana, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 98 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.