West teacher records special class moments for posterity
By Lauren Oppermann, Current Staff
Have you ever laughed so hard you wished you could live in that moment forever?
Seven years into his teaching career, West Bend West High School social studies teacher Aaron Paulin found himself thinking exactly that. Now, inside his classroom, the side wall is filled with mementos and a list of special moments in the classroom. It’s surrounded by students reminiscing about past times when their day was made a little brighter. This wall is covered with a large piece of paper that serves as “The Chronicle Wall.”
The idea for the wall came to Paulin when a project called The Chronicle was being done in class. Students were expected to record their life events along with events going on in the world at that time. That got Paulin thinking about doing something similar to record the fun moments of school year.
“Instead of chronicling the first unit, let’s chronicle the year,” Paulin said. “I said ‘I wish I could remember these moments.’ Every day there’s something neat that happens.”
Paulin believes that everyone is unique, and that it makes students feel a sense of importance to be part of a noteworthy inside joke. It was because of his students that this idea came to life.
When does he know to include a memory on the wall?
“When the whole class is engaged in it,” Paulin said. “One thing I take pride in is trying to make sure that we are a team and everyone is included. I always try to tell my classes and my people, when appropriate, that I appreciate the class.”
“Anytime someone sneezes it’s just like, nothing personal, I giggle,” Paulin said. “The funny, weird, and wild happenings that occur in class make the class and the students unique.”
Looking back at previous additions to the wall is not just for the benefit of the students. Paulin says that he frequently rereads them during his own time.
The contributions could be anywhere from the faces that students make before sneezing, his study hall class wanting the lights off because it is relaxing, or discussions about females being against women’s suffrage.
Even though he is a teacher, his students view him as more than that.
“He teaches us more than just history, life stuff, too,” West ninth grader Brynn Fleischman said.
During his own high school career, Paulin never would have considered becoming a teacher. He disliked school and was not a dedicated student. But around his senior year, one of his teachers got him back on track.
“I was very thankful that I had a teacher who was so committed to me and helped me change my life around,” Paulin said. “In college, I thought, if I could help one person in any way, then being a teacher would be worth it.”
Not only does he share a bond with his students, but his colleagues as well. Adam Inkmann, a fellow West social studies teacher, has known Paulin for 15 years and has many memories with him.
“Mr. Paulin is a great guy, who really cares about his students,” Inkmann said. “He is also a guy that I count on for honesty and perspective.”
Around his classroom, there are many painted quotations and student-made signs hanging up on the walls. Many phrases that Paulin frequently uses in class have also made their way to being classroom artwork.
“The students compiled a list of 70 quotes to paint on the wall,” Paulin said. “That is the reflection of the year, the memories as a whole.”
(Photos by Lauren Oppermann, Current Staff.)