For most students — and their parents — at North Ridge Elementary School in Grimes she is affectionately known as “Miss Anita.”
Anita Orton, special education associate, has been at North Ridge for five years, and was with South Prairie Elementary School for one year before that.
“I had worked in preschool for years and wanted to try something different,” Orton says. “I’ve always loved kids and wondered what it would be like to work with bigger kids.”
The special ed associates at DC-G schools took a year-long class called para-educator offered through the Area Education Agency to become more familiar with students’ needs and different ways to work with them.
Orton grew up in Ackley and graduated from Ackley-Geneva High School. After graduation, she moved to Van Meter, where her sister lived because she thought she would have more opportunities for finding work in a larger area.
“I taught preschool in a private day care in Adel for eight years,” Orton says. “I worked with 4- and 5-year-olds there.”
Orton then worked at Brighter Beginnings Preschool in Grimes for seven years.
“I worked with 3-year-olds there, and now I have some of those same kids in fourth grade,” she says.
Working with kids seems to come naturally to Orton.
“My mom was my 3-year-old Sunday school teacher, and she taught Sunday school for many yeas,” she says. “My mom is from Spain, and I’d love to go over there to learn more about the culture.”
Orton also is a regular leader in the nursery at her church. She likes to spend time with her daughter, Chelsee, watching her grow up as a great young lady.
Orton’s philosophy is to “live life one day at a time, and just enjoy life.
“I like to make people happy,” she says. “It is such a great feeling to know that I’ve helped these students every day.”