November Staff Member of the Month: Paula Carr


Hana Donnelly

Paula Carr Holding her staff Member of the Month award.

Audrey Kelly, Website Production Team

It’s a true rarity to see someone who is completely passionate about their career, and Paula Carr, Wando’s Teacher of the Month for November, has that gift.

With both her parents being teachers, it came to no surprise that she wanted to carry on the family tradition. She considered doing other things, but to her, she was only meant to take this path.

“I teach special ed. And I didn’t plan on it when I started out, but I kept finding myself being drawn to the kids who were struggling the most. Not all teachers did that, so I figured I could be someone to help them,” Carr said.

She couldn’t be happier with that decision. The relationships she has with her students are some of the most important things to her. Seeing them grow and find their way in the world lets her know that she has done her job.

“Finding out what each student needs was hard for me to grasp at first, but it came to me with time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Carr said. “Now it’s like a big family here — whenever a visitor comes in you can just feel the love.”

One of her favorite stories to tell shows just what a big impact she has had on her students — a kid was leaving class and said “I love you” on the way out. She stopped him and had to explain that saying that to a female teacher while he is a male wasn’t always going to be appropriate, and that he couldn’t say it again.

“He seemed to understand, but the next day as he was walking out he goes ‘1-4-3,’ and I had no idea what that meant. So I asked and he said ‘One letter, four letters, three letters,’ then just left. Those were the amount of letters in each word of ‘I love you’ and it was so sweet I kind of let him get away with that,” Carr said.

She wants people to know that her kids aren’t as sheltered as one may think. They read to a therapy dog every week and have so many opportunities at the school to get out of their comfort zone.

“They are such sweet kids, yet they tend to compare themselves to people who are different than them. We all do sometimes, but my goal as a teacher is to help them find their confidence. Just knowing who you are, genius or not, you can do whatever you put your mind to,” Carr said.

“They hear all their lives growing up only about things they can’t do, but maybe I can show them what they can do.”
After telling this to them for quite some time, she found that they started to build each other up on their own, and that makes everything worth it to Carr.

“It’s not about how much I teach you or what your reading level is. Those things are not as important if you can’t believe in yourself, and that’s what I want to do here,” she said.

Even though this is only her third year at Wando, Carr is also in charge of the popular Exceptional Warriors club, which celebrates not only people’s similarities but also their differences.

“I know that this is what I am meant to do. Seeing people come together and start to learn from one another reassures me on that,” she said.

And given the stories she tells and the way she interacts with her kids, it should be clear to anyone that she is truly making a difference on her students’ lives.