Amanda (Zuercher) Paulus, a 2012 graduate of Tabor, recently was given an enthusiastic YouTube video “shout-out” from Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education, for her exemplary service in teaching special education at Meadowlark Elementary School in Liberal, Kansas. Watson referred to Amanda as a “Rockstar” teacher.
Paulus does not know how the commissioner found out about her, but did note that he has visited her district at least once because of the “Kansans Can” school redesign initiative.
She has been teaching for eight years in special education. Her student caseload is 14 with a wide range of varying disabilities. Amanda works on a team with four teachers and nine para-educators. They deal with learning disabilities (such as dyslexia), autism, hard of hearing, visual impairments, and other behavioral disabilities.
Her absolute favorite part of special education is getting to build individual relationships with students, which can be more challenging to do in a general education setting. She noted, “We have the same students for multiple years, and in smaller settings so it provides more opportunity to know students both on an academic level, but also on a personal level. I also enjoy getting to really personalize learning for each student. It is like a puzzle trying to find what will help learning really click for them, and when it does, those are the best moments in teaching!” Amanda credits the team she is on as one in which they can create a safe place where special needs students can be successful and enjoy learning in their unique ways.
Reflecting on her educational preparation, Amanda said, “When I began my Tabor career, I knew I wanted to work with children. I just wasn’t 100 percent sure through which avenue. Tabor provided a variety of opportunities for me to have hands-on experience with the options within education. Being able to observe during my first interterm general education, special education, school counseling, and other services offered in a school setting in order to find the path right for me. The Education professors were also checking in on me and discussing my thoughts and plans for the future right from the beginning in order to help me navigate my options.” Tabor’s partnership with the ACCK allowed her two special education endorsement alongside her General Education teaching certificate within four years. Amanda appreciated that several of her classes were taught by adjuncts who were currently, or recently in K-12 education.
Also special about her Tabor experience was participating in, and directing CHUMS, which provided yet another experience teaching and building relationships with children as well as school staff. Amanda said, “I am thankful for my time at Tabor and for the Elementary Education department who worked very hard to tailor my experiences both on campus and through practicums in elementary schools to help me find the path that God had for me.”
Amanda is married to Josh (class of 2011); have two children and reside in Liberal, Kansas.