Meet Walking Classroom Ambassador Paula Venable. Paula teaches fourth grade at Santiago Hills Elementary School in California. She has worked in education for 33 years, and has been using The Walking Classroom for three years.
What are your memories of yourself when you were that age?
In fourth grade I loved to read, cook with my mom, and ride my bike. I loved school!
What led you to become an educator?
The joy of working with children and my love of learning brought me to become an educator. As a high school student, I taught Sunday school and loved every minute of it. My dad used to say that I was born a teacher.
Share your educational philosophy in one to three sentences.
I believe that every child has a gift, and that the classroom should be a safe and engaging place of discovery and joy where every child reaches his/her greatest potential.
What is your favorite content area/topic to teach? Why?
Reading and writing are my favorite content areas to teach because reading takes kids to new worlds to meet new characters. The adventures we have and the discoveries we make when we read become a part of who we are. And when we write, we tell our stories and create new adventures for others to enjoy.
What is your favorite podcast or Walking Classroom memory and why?
My favorite Walking Classroom memory took place early in my adoption of the program. We had just completed a walk and were wrapping up our discussion when a student stated, “This is such a fun way to learn! I love being outside and learning at the same time. We really must share the secret of the Walking Classroom.” It was said with such conviction that others needed to be able to learn the same way.
What is your best teaching memory?
My favorite teaching memory took place 10 years after I had a student named Josh in my class as a second grader. After school one day, I got a call from the office that there was someone to see me. I walked up to the office and saw the back of a tall young man. When he turned around, I immediately recognized Josh.
After chatting for a few minutes, I asked, “What brings you here today after ten years?” From behind his back he revealed a paperweight in the shape of an apple and a notepad that said Teachers are the Best. When I thanked him for his thoughtfulness, he replied, “I got my first paycheck today, and you were the first person I thought of and wanted to thank. You believed in me and helped me believe in myself.“ Sometimes we never realize how our time together in the short span of a year will change us and our students.
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
My advice would be to enjoy every day, build relationships, and never stop learning yourself.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to travel with my husband of 31 years. I love to read, read, read, and spend time at the bookstore with my goddaughter, Peyton. And living in Southern California, beach walks are enjoyed anytime.
Name something you’d like to cross off your bucket list.
I’d like to go to Africa and ride an elephant.
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