A familiar face at Wolf, many of you may already know our Director of Enrollment, Paula Kelly. But what you may not know is what led her to Wolf and how her roles have evolved since coming to Wolf in 2006. Learn more about Paula, in this month’s We Are Wolf interview!
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background prior to Wolf?
I worked at an after-school program and was a substitute teacher at a local private school, and coached various children’s sports teams before coming to Wolf. My undergraduate degree is in Psychology and I knew I wanted to work with children, but just did not know in what capacity.
2. Can you tell us about your time at Wolf?
When I started at Wolf is when I knew! I started out as a teaching assistant and had the opportunity to work in all of the classrooms, with different age groups from youngest to oldest, and with all of the teaching staff throughout the school. I was instantly drawn to the model, students, and expertise of the staff and shortly realized that I wanted to go back to school and get a degree in special education to have my own classroom! I completed my master’s program while working here full time as TA and then took on a lead classroom teaching position in middle school, which I loved and stayed in for a number of years. When I had a family of my own, I worked part-time as a learning specialist and now I feel honored to be in enrollment, helping students and families find this amazing educational home.
3. What do you find to be the most rewarding part about your job as Director of Enrollment?
There are so many rewarding parts of being Director of Enrollment at Wolf! At the top of my list is having the opportunity to help students and families who have had various past school experiences, learn more about this safe loving nurturing learning environment. In most instances, when candidates (and families) get to the point of exploring a school like Wolf, many families and students have lost hope with school and in some instances, the education system in general. At times, students (and families) often explain that they do not feel understood where they are, the teachers and other students are mean, and they can’t learn in the busy classroom/ school environment, therefore it can be a negative experience for the child and overall family. It truly is remarkable to see the transformation that students make within this environment. It’s the moments of seeing the child who wasn’t comfortable speaking to anyone, now feeling confident enough to be in front of the entire school representing at All School Assembly, the student who had difficulty making friends, now having strong meaningful connections and friendships throughout their classroom and school community. It’s the authentic love that our staff has for the students and the genuine belly laughing I see and hear throughout the classroom and hallways from students (and teachers!) that makes this a one-of-a-kind magical place, which shines through in so many ways!
4. What is your favorite part about working with Complex Learners/at Wolf?
The best part of working at Wolf and with our students is the feeling of commitment and compassion. Our students are some of the most creative, bright, hardworking students around! They have so many strengths, and Wolf provides the opportunity to capitalize on and build on those individual strengths. This year, in particular, has been humbling to see some of the past graduates (and some that I have taught in middle school!) come back to volunteer at Wolf, as they are determining the next steps after graduating college. That in itself, speaks volumes of the positive impact this school has had on our students; they want to come back and do good for the school.
5. Who are some of your own role models and why?
I have and continue to have many role models throughout my life that I look up to. I feel like my grandfather played a critical role in who I am today. He was a well-known pediatrician and pioneer in the medical field helping to bridge the medical and clinical professions at Bradley Hospital, with children’s overall well-being as a top priority. He was always a big supporter of my working at a place like Wolf, frequently reminding me that I took after him! I am grateful to him for helping to motivate and influence me to be a good human and positive person in life.
We are so grateful to have someone as compassionate and dedicated as Paula at Wolf! To learn more about other Wolf Staff, read some of our past We Are Wolf interviews!