Paula Weidner, 4th Grade Teacher at Markham Elementary School in Portland, Oregon
Nominated by Alyssa Pizzuti (parent):
Paula Weidner has spent the last 17 years serving Markham and its students. One of my daughters was in her classroom last year and I have another daughter with her this year. She creates a fun learning environment and has a huge impact her students, academically and personally. Paula is so positive with her students. She explains things well, has high expectations for them, challenges them daily and helps them solve their problems. She has control over her class with a calm demeanor and confidence, and the students really respect her. Paula is very special; she creates a nice environment to learn in by making the room decorative with a homey feel. She’s full of life, and when she gets excited about learning, her students get excited about learning as well. Paula makes every student feel important by always listening to them. She has a great reputation with the students and parents at Markham; every 4th grader wants to be in her class. The lucky ones get to spend a year in her classroom and grow both academically and personally. Fourth grade is a big growth year academically with more homework, more expectations, and challenging subject matters. Paula supports her student’s academic growth by meeting them where they are, and working with them to improve and grow. Fourth grade is also a big growth year personally; building confidence/self-esteem, friendship drama, and more independence. Paula is there any time a child needs help with this. She is often seen spending her lunch time eating with a student one-on-one or in small groups, providing a safe ear to listen and building relationships with her students. Whether she’s paying out of her own pocket for a classroom party that her students earned for good behavior, or making sure that every student feels included, or staying late to provide council to students or parents, she gives her time freely and often. Every student that leaves her classroom at the end of 4th grade has LOVED their time with her.
Congrats, Paula, from all of us at K103! Get to know Paula Weidner:
What inspired you to become an educator?
I’ve always liked school and learning new things. I started out wanting to be a Speech Pathologist but realized what I liked about that was the teaching part of it.
What do you like most about teaching?
I like that kid’s think you are the greatest and you can have a positive influence on their lives. I like that it’s different every day and never boring. I really love the notes and emails of appreciation I get from parents and students.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
Kids are so savvy on computers now. Many times they can troubleshoot much better than me when something isn’t working. There’s a lot more testing now which takes up a lot of teaching time. I think we expect more from kids at a very early age.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
That I like spending the day with their kids, they are fun and I like the way they think. I'm not sure parents realize how many snap decisions a teacher has to make in a day. It can be exhausting some days, but never dull!
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
I was teaching my class how to do research on the internet. We were doing a search using Mozilla Firefox. One student raised his hand and said, “Ms. Weidner, I can’t get on “Mozzarella Firefox”. I told him the name was actually Mozilla Firefox, but that his name for it was much better!