Nibley Elementary Teacher of the Year, Susan Paulsin, encourages kindness and mindfulness
Congratulations to Susan Paulsin, who has been chosen to be Nibley Elementary’s Teacher of the Year! As a school counselor, Paulsin has the opportunity to gear her lessons and teaching to individual students' needs. Her primary focus is educating students about behavior, language, thought, and actions. She does monthly lessons in classrooms throughout the school, where students learn about how the brain functions and its role in our emotions.
Paulsin has been a counselor in the district for six years. She spent the first few years at Canyon Elementary and then moved to Birch Creek Elementary before working at Nibley. However, Paulsin is not only a school counselor. She also helps with the TAG team, and the safety committee, and advises the Kindness Crew.
The Kindness Crew is a voluntary program for sixth graders to help spread, encourage, and show kindness to their peers. Paulsin got the idea from a counselor at another school where the program has done incredibly well. Students sign up to help spread kindness by running food drives and diaper drives, putting together activities for their peers, organizing events such as carnivals and kindness raps, and learning essential leadership skills.
Paulsin emphasizes that if a person gives kindness, they will receive kindness in return. “When you choose to be kind, you have no idea what that person's story is,” Paulsin explains. “If you knew their story, it might be easier to make a better choice, but not knowing their story should make it even easier.” She also knows that teaching students how to recognize their own emotions and what is going on inside of them will help them be kind and empathetic towards others.
To help students learn to regulate their emotions, Paulsin does various activities that teach them about their emotions and how to recognize what they are feeling. When students understand how they are feeling, they can learn how to manage their emotions better. A few of these activities include chair yoga, bubble breathing, and moments of mindfulness.
For chair yoga, Paulsin visits classrooms to lead students in a five-minute activity where they focus on stretches they can do while sitting down. Students get their wiggles out and learn stretches that will help relax their bodies without disrupting others around them. Bubble blowing is a technique Paulsin teaches where you practice taking in deep breaths, expanding the lungs, and pretending you are blowing big bubbles. She also leads guided imagery and retaliation with music as part of her moments of mindfulness. Paulsin’s goal with these activities is to help students learn techniques to calm themselves down before letting their emotions get the best of them.
Principal Paula Hull describes Paulsin as a compassionate counselor who is always willing to lend a listening ear to students and faculty. “When it is essential for a student to see [Paulsin] (family loss, divorce, behavior issues, and many others), she makes time in her schedule to see them. Her door is open to ideas about small student groups to help them with difficulties such as interacting with friends, anger management, and fear,” Hull observed. “Susan is an integral part of the success at our school. She exemplifies the qualities that qualify her for this honor.”
Paulsin (with Principal Paula Hull and board member Jeffrey Nielsen) was
honored at the April 21, 2022 board meeting.