Meet Paula

Early Life

Born in Johnson County, located close to the West Virginia border in Eastern Kentucky, I've made Lexington my home for the past 21 years.

My parents are retired educators -- my mother a high school English teacher and my father a school principal -- and from them I learned the value of hard work and the pride that comes from a job well done. They instilled in me an understanding of the power of education to change lives, the belief that women can do anything, and the acceptance that people are people, no matter how they look, what religion they practice, or how much money they make. My maternal grandparents were teachers and small business owners, and my paternal grandfather and step-grandfathers labored as coal miners and a pipe fitter.

After graduating from the University of Kentucky with Bachelor degrees in English and Journalism and a Master's in Secondary Education, I returned to my hometown to teach English at my alma mater, Johnson Central High School. My dad told me something then I'll never forget -- that before my first day, I needed to head into the county to see how my students lived. I thought I knew poverty -- hadn't I grown up there? -- but I'd never witnessed some of the living conditions I saw on that drive. It was a sobering experience that ignited an interest in issues of social justice and civil rights.

Move to Lexington

My decision to pursue a Rank I with a Master's degree in library science at the University of Kentucky ended up changing the direction of my life. When I graduated, I accepted a school library media position at Deep Springs Elementary and settled here in Lexington. I took my Dad's advice again, and made it a point to visit the neighborhoods that shaped my students' daily experiences. Immediately, it became apparent that my library collection and instruction required reshaping -- African-American and Spanish Language materials were a priority as were lessons incorporating book characters and historical figures of color. 

Deep Springs was also responsible for my first discussion about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) when a bright fourth grader named Laura whispered that she was illegal and could never attend college. I developed leadership skills  through service on my school's Site-Based Council, the Fayette County Education Association Board of Directors, and the Lexington Public Library Advisory Board. It was during this time, too, that I took part in my first rally, when teachers headed to Frankfort to express displeasure over Governor Fletcher's proposed cuts to teacher healthcare benefits -- and several years later to protest against cuts to education.

Here and Now

Currently, I am a District Technology Resource Teacher for FCPS where I provide support and professional development for teachers in instructional technology. I also coordinate Digital Citizenship training and resources for the district's school coordinators as they provide students with the skills necessary to successfully and safely navigate digital spaces. My leadership with FCEA has continued with a variety of other activities and a term as vice president. This past year also saw a resurgence in my activism -- I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Women's March in January, and I headed to Frankfort this past November for the pension rally at the bottom of the Capitol steps.

I'm fortunate to have my husband, Mitch, on this journey. We've been married six and half years and are both members of Immanuel Baptist Church. I'm also the proud aunt of two incredible nieces who attend schools located in District 12.