Twin support aids embrace differences, help students

Twins+Shawna+and+Vaughn+Abolin+graduated+from+Algonquin+and+now+work+as+support+aids.+

Ellie Ouano

Twins Shawna and Vaughn Abolin graduated from Algonquin and now work as support aids.

Mia Gorman, Staff Writer

First Tiny Tomahawks then Algonquin graduates, twin-sister instructional support aids Shawna and Vaughn Abolin have spent much of their lives in ARHS classrooms. Now back as faculty members, their opposite personalities help them be successful at their current jobs.

The Abolin twins have been a part of the Algonquin community since they were four years old, and they both have early memories of being in the Tiny Tomahawk program.

“I could remember walking the hallways by the lunchroom and just seeing all these big kids and hoping that I could come here one day,” Vaughn Abolin said. “Little did I know I’d be staying for a while.”

While Vaughn Abolin loved meeting the other Tiny Tomahawks, Shawna Abolin had a difficult time sharing her sister with their classmates.

When we work with students in classes, we can kind of relate and know how they’re feeling, how to gauge, how to spread everything out and make it easier for them to work.”

— Vaughn Abolin, support aid

“As a little kid, Vaughn was my best friend,” Shawna Abolin said. “She was the only friend I knew, and when there were other kids in the class, and they wanted to play with Vaughn, I felt like they were stealing her away from me and I would cry.”

Although they have grown up together, their opposite personalities have continued to distinguish them since their preschool days. 

“Shawna is more reserved, and I’m more bubbly and outgoing and sometimes embarrassing,” Vaughn Abolin said. “I’m like a peppy cheerleader.” 

With their differences, they each bring unique strengths to their instructional support jobs, where they work one-on-one with students to help them manage their work. 

 “[Shawna] is hardworking, dedicated and she’s like a mama bear to the kids,” Vaughn Abolin said.

“[Vaughn] is definitely out there,” Shawna Abolin said. “She’s amazing with the students.”

The sisters love having the opportunity to work together, although they never expected to end up with the same job.

Both sisters had IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) as Algonquin students and received help from aids, which they believe gives them an important perspective to share with their own students now.

“When we work with students in classes, we can kind of relate and know how they’re feeling, how to gauge, how to spread everything out and make it easier for them to work,” Vaughn Abolin said. 

In the future, Shawna Abolin hopes to teach English, and Vaughn Abolin hopes to teach math. They are currently taking classes that will help them achieve these goals, on track to further their careers and continue working at Algonquin.

 

Correction Dec. 7, 2021: The byline for this article was originally attributed to the wrong reporter. The reporting and writing was done by Mia Gorman.